The EU Greens have sent around a first hand account of a December 5 meeting between trade officials including Velasco Martins (the EC’s top negotiator for IP in TTIP), and lobbyists from “TimeWarner, Microsoft, Ford, Eli Lilly, AbbVie (pharmaceutical, formerly Abbott) and the luxury conglomerate LMVH. The participant list also included representatives from Nike, Dow, Pfizer, GE, BSA and Disney – among others.”
There is a lot of interesting stuff in the account, (which is described further in by Glyn Moody here) including the statement that the Commission has “received ‘quite a Christmas list of items’ on IP from corporate lobbyists and that they are working to implement this list. The list has already been discussed with the US in several meetings, in person as well as online.”
What caught my eye was the discussion at the end of the report, about how the EC and the lobbies intend to sell an agreement with stronger IPR protections to a skeptical public.
A recurring theme was that the public needs to be re-educated to understand the value of industry monopoly rights. According to Pellegrino [from the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market] , the key to doing this is a number of pro-IP reports that will or have been released by OHIM. One recent report was highlighted. It claims that every fourth job in the EU only exists because of intellectual property regulations… This report was hailed by everyone at the meeting. Speaker after speaker re-iterated how important it was that the numbers from this report must be repeated as often as possible.
In the US, there have been many criticisms of this these types of reports, especially the way they count industries one might not think of as dependent on intellectual property, but that place a lot of importance in trademark protection (i.e. – grocery stores). Many of the industries counted as relying upon copyright protection also rely upon limitations and exceptions to copyright protection – and in some cases have lobbied against strengthening copyright protection for rightholders (i.e. – web portals; library and archives activities). And of course, the studies do not even try to demonstrate that ever-higher levels of IPR protection are associated with outcomes any different than TRIPS-level IPR protections. (The OHIM report they refer to is here.)
Nonetheless, the jobs figures in the U.S. are constantly repeated by elected officials, so by repeating the figures “as often as possible,” the industry has managed to set the terms of the debate.
Do read the full first hand account from the EC Greens.