May 142012
 

(cc dherrera_96 bit.ly/LxtI9S)

The 12th round of Trans Pacific Partnership talks are underway in Dallas.  Negotiators are covering intellectual property topics including enforcement and patents.  As reported by Inside U.S. Trade, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore have proposed replacing some elements of the US proposal on IP enforcement with ACTA language. The US proposal for IP enforcement in the TPP goes beyond ACTA in a number of ways.  Under  the US proposal, an infringement carried out without regard to financial gain may be still considered “commercial scale” – and therefore subject to criminal penalties.  The US TPP proposals also requires penalties to be applied in certain cases where infringements are not carried out “willfully.”  For a good analysis of the differences between TPP and ACTA, see former PIJIP fellow Carrie Sager’s table comparing the two).

Side events were held throughout the week at Dallas, including side events by PhRMA, BIO, as well as civil society groups.  Public Citizen hosted a lunch on IP and Innovation which presented different views on the topic than those typically promoted by the IP-owning industries.   Public Knowledge held an open event (cosponsored by PIJIP) on copyright enforcement, at which “Public Knowledge focused on the impact of harsh copyright enforcement provisions on due process and freedom of information on the internet. EFF spoke from its litigation experience to highlight how copyright enforcement provisions can impose high costs on intermediaries and sacrifice privacy and due process. InternetNZ discussed the ramifications of policies that require internet service providers to terminate internet access after three allegations of infringement. Jonathan Band from the Library Copyright Alliance highlighted the unsustainable costs of copyright litigation to libraries and the importance of limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries.”

Official stakeholder interaction at the round was carried out differently than it has been in earlier rounds.  There was no formal session with presentations, but a table session where stakeholders distributed materials and spoke one on one with negotiators.  Groups that work on intellectual property were behind roughly half of the tables.  (More on the tabling session is here.)

At a stakeholder briefing on the 13th, negotiators met with civil society again for a question and answer session.  In Burcu Kilac from the Public Citizen Global Access to Medicine Program asked negotiators about the link between IP, innovation, and foreign direct investment, and particularly whether countries consulted economists for advice.  Vietnam responded that they were aware what country receives the most inward FDI, and it is not Singapore [despite Singapore's strong IP].  Singapore said that they supported strong intellectual property rights, but that they were mindful that overly strong IPRs that allow patent evergreening could stifle innovation.

On the topic of transparency, USTR Ron Kirk told a Reuters interviewer that “we have very faithfully operated within the spirit of the Obama administration to have the most engaged and transparent process as we possibly could… But there’s a practical reason, for our ability both to preserve negotiating strength and to encourage our partners to be willing to put issues on the table they may not otherwise, that we have to preserve some measure of discretion and confidentiality.”  He also noted that the text of the Free Trade Area of the Americas was released to the public during its negotiations, and the agreement failed.

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