USTR Receives Comments on ACTA: Thirty Professors Warn that It Requires Congressional Approval

Civil society groups, firms, trade associations, and individuals filed 152 submissions on ACTA with the US Trade Representative last week.  A joint submission by 30 legal and international trade scholars warned  that the Obama Administration’s plan to implement ACTA without Congressional consent as a “sole executive agreement is unconstitutional. The joint submission was authored by PIJIP Associate Director Sean Flynn working closely with colleagues at other schools including David Levin , Christopher Sprigman, Anthony Falzone, Brook Baker, and Kevin Outterson. Click here for more.

USTR Receives Comments on the 2011 Special 301 Report: to Hold Hearing in Two Weeks

The US Trade Representative received comments on the 2011 Special 301 Report from all interested parties other than foreign governments, which have an additional week to file. Submissions on behalf of groups of public interest advocates argued that past uses of the Special 301 program have violated the WTO obligations on dispute settlement; harmed the interests of poor countries in accessing affordable medicines; threatened medicine pricing programs abroad that are similar to state operated Medicaid reimbursement programs in the United States; and failed to adhere to global best practices on copyright policy. On March 2, an interagency Special 301 Committee will hold an open hearing on the 2011 Special 301 Report. Click here for more.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations: US Tables IP Text; Members of US Congress Push for Strong IP Protections; Civil Society Asks for Protection of TRIPS Flexibilities


The fifth Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating round was held in Santigao, Chile, on February 14-18.  The US tabled text for an intellectual property chapter, which is not public.  Sources have reported that sections relating to patent extensions for pharmaceuticals, data exclusivity, and linkage between health and patent officials have been left blank to be filled in later.  Inside US Trade reports that the US proposal would “give a copyright holder the authority to… stop importation of its copyrighted goods from another country” and “to prohibit temporary reproductions of copyrighted works.”  Eighteen Members of Congress wrote the Obama Administration asking for the IP provisions in the Korea FTA – the strongest IP language in any FTA so far – to be used as a model for IP in the TPP.  Thirty-nine civil society groups asked all negotiating countries to “establish TRIPS as the maximum standard of substantive protection required by the TPP and preexisting trade agreements in the region; and assist the effective implementation of TRIPS flexibilities.”  Click here for more.

International Open Letter to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Concerning At-Risk Positive A2K Policies

An international open letter to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in support of the work of Brazilian civil society has been signed by international organizations, academics and activists.  It lists achievements by the previous Ministry of Culture, including support for free software, the Development Agenda at WIPO, an open inclusive dialogue in society about culture policies, the adoption of free licenses, and the copyright bill. In December, Brazilian civil society wrote a similar letter expressing concern that Rousseff’s appointment of Ana de Hollanda as new Minister of Culture could lead to a reversal of the progressive policies of previous Ministers. This reversal is already taking place: it includes the suspension of the copyright reform process  and the removal of the Creative Commons licenses from the Ministry’s website. Click here for more.

US Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Legislation “Targeting Websites Dedicated To Stealing American Intellectual Property”


Representatives from Rosetta Stone, the Authors Guild, Go Daddy, Verizon, and Visa testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 16, 2011.  Judiciary Chairman Leahy sponsored last year’s Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeiting Act (COICA), and the hearing was meant to solicit input before similar legislation is introduced later this year.  Witnesses were generally supportive of efforts to block websites. Some requested that future legislation include strong language on private right of action, and penalties for firms that do not cooperate in takedowns.  Rosetta Stone CEO Tom Adams was especially adamant that search engines be held responsible for steering internet users towards sites that sell infringing materials.  Verizon VP Thomas Daily asked the Committee to keep in mind that COICA or similar legislation will incur costs for service providers, warned against a private right of action, and asked the Committee to remember that government-sanctioned website blocking is a significant shift in internet policy.  Click here for more.

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