The United States Trade Representative issued Federal Register notices on July 23, 2012, for comments on Mexico and Canada joining the TPP negotiations as regards several areas of the agreement, including intellectual property issues. Organizations and individuals responding with comments on intellectual property issues were generally supportive of new participants in the agreement.
The majority of commenters, including industry associations representing pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, were supportive of higher IP standards. Two organizations suggested requiring IP protections under the TPP that are similar to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Several commenters, such as Biotechnology Industry Organization and Novartis Corporation, took the opportunity to express concern with specific weaknesses they perceived in Canada or Mexico’s current IP law. For instance, among other issues, BIO commented on Canada’s patentability requirements, while Novartis advocated strengthening Mexico’s patent litigation procedures.
Knowledge Ecology International used the comment process to urge the USTR to negotiate for IP measures that provide enforceable rights to IP owners balanced with consumer protection and access to medicine. Knowledge Ecology International also supported language allowing limitations and exceptions to copyright protections, which the USTR had moved away from in a version released earlier this year. Dr. Mark Akrigg criticized the leaked TPP IP chapter language as undercutting the democratic processes of the participant countries.
The dairy industry expressed interest in the TPP’s IP requirements as an opportunity to reduce the breadth of geographical indication protection in the European Union. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce remarked on the importance of trade secret protection.