Today’s release of the TPP agreement confirms that its Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter would expand the rights of private companies to challenge limitations and exceptions to copyrights, patents, and other intellectual property rights in unaccountable international arbitration forums. The text contains broader provisions than are being used by Eli Lilly to challenge Canada’s invalidation of patent extensions for new uses of two medicines originally developed in the 1970s. The TPP includes a new footnote, not previously released as part of any other investment chapter and not included in the U.S. model investment text — clarifying that private expropriation actions can be brought to challenge “the cancellation or nullification of such [intellectual property] rights,” as well as “exceptions to such rights.” This expands the range of challenges that can be brought by companies against intellectual property limitations and exceptions.
Instead of combatting the ability to bring cases such as Eli Lilly’s, the TPP’s investment chapter invites them. Any time a national court – including in the U.S. – invalidates a wrongfully granted patent or other intellectual property right, the affected company could appeal that revocation to foreign arbitrators. The new language would also make clear that private companies are empowered by the treaty to challenge limitations and exceptions like the U.S. fair use doctrine, or individual applications of it. Adoption of this set of rules in the largest regional trade agreement of its kind would upset the international intellectual property legal system and should be subject to the most rigorous and open debate in every country where it is being considered.
-Sean Flynn, Associate Director
Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
American University Washington College of Law
202-294-5749 | email@example.com
See for background:
- FAQ on ISDS and Intellectual Property
- How the Leaked TPP ISDS Chapter Threatens Intellectual Property Limitations and Exceptions