The White House Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) has issued a request for comments to inform the drafting of the next Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement. The notice “invites public input and participation in shaping the Federal Government’s intellectual property enforcement strategy for 2016–2019.” The Federal Register notice is here, and IP Czar Danny Marti’s post about it is here. Comments are due October 16, 2015.
The South African government has introduced a draft Cybercrimes & Cybersecurity Bill for public comment. The Bill states that anyone who “sells, offers for download, distributes, or otherwise makes available” copyrighted works “by means of a computer network or an electronic communications network” will be guilty of an offense. Penalties include fines or up to three years imprisonment.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has issued a request for comments for the 2016 National Trade Estimate (NTE) report on Foreign Trade Barriers. This is an annual report in which USTR seeks to identify “significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods, services, and U.S. foreign direct investment.” The notice suggests that “commenters should submit information related to one or more of the following categories of foreign trade barriers … (4) Lack of intellectual property protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright, and trademark regimes);”
Comments are open to the public, and should be submitted electronically by October 28, 2015. See the Federal Register Notice for instructions. The NTE report is typically released in the spring of each yearm, and the 2015 NTE is available here.
Creative Commons USA and over 100 other groups have sent a letter to President Obama urging a policy to ensure that “educational materials created with federal funds… are made available to the public as Open Educational Resources to freely use, share, and build upon” through the use of open licenses. The letter further notes that “the global standard for public copyright licensing for copyrighted content is Creative Commons. Existing U.S. Government grant programs including the TAACCCT and First in the World Programs mentioned above, use the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Releasing materials under a standard license, such as CC-BY, allows for increased reuse and compatibility between materials produced by different institutions, including private charitable foundations and other national governments.”
Knowledge Ecology International has leaked the Trans Pacific Partnership draft chapter on intellectual property, dated May 11, 2015. They have also posted Director James Love’s initial comments on the patents and test data provisions, as well as his comments on the copyright provisions.
Other analyses on the text have been posted by Médecins Sans Frontières, Latrobe University Prof. Deborah Gleeson, and University of Ottawa Prof. Michael Geist. More analyses of the text are sure to come.
The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has opened a consultation on a proposal to extend the penalties for online copyright infringement to ten years imprisonment. Currently, the maximum prison term is two years. The consultation paper notes that the penalty for theft of physical goods is ten years, and argues that there is a strong case for “harmonizing” the two penalties:
Inside U.S. Trade reports that USTR has “effectively wrapped up” negotiations with Vietnam and Singapore and “will seek to bring TPP ‘to some kind of a conclusion’ when ministers meet later this month in Hawaii.” Froman has delivered an “ultimatum” to Malaysia.
Reps. Schakowsky and DeLauro joined MSF, AARP and others at a press briefing on IP and Access to Medicines. Rep. Schakowsky told the press that “What is clear is that it is U.S. negotiators who are pushing to tilt the balance between intellectual property rights and public health even more toward the brand-name drug companies.”
This post presents data comparing branded antiretroviral medicine prices in countries which have entered into free trade agreements with the U.S. containing TRIPS-Plus intellectual property obligations, to the prices for the same drugs in other countries. According to publicly available data from the World Health Organization’s Global Price Reporting Mechanism (GPRM), prices of branded antiretrovirals negotiated by large institutional purchasers (like UNITAID and the Clinton Foundation) were more than twice as high between 2004 and 2014 when the sale took place in countries with U.S. FTAs. If one controls for per capita income, inclusion in international HIV/AIDS treatment guidelines, and the year of purchase, the average difference between the negotiated price of branded drugs in countries with and without FTAs in force is 57%. The price differences vary greatly by drug.
[Electronic Information for Libraries, Link, (CC-BY)] Once again, the European Union (EU) has blocked progress at the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights (SCCR) that met in Geneva from 29 June-3 July 2015. And this time, the EU is more isolated.
The Committee is discussing copyright laws that would aid libraries and archives in fulfilling their missions in a global, digital environment. EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) and representatives of international library and archive organizations, observed the European Union refuse to engage in meaningful discussions that would enable an effective global information infrastructure for access to knowledge.
Inside U.S. Trade reports that Trade Ministers have scheduled Trans Pacific Partnership Ministerial for the end of July in Hawaii. Chief negotiators will meet prior to the Ministerial to try to iron out remaining areas of disagreement.
Jiji press reports that there are six unresolved areas where “negotiations are not proceeding smoothly.” Data exclusivity for biologics is one such area. The story quotes a Japanese negotiator saying “Unless Washington shortens the requested protection period, there is little chance of an agreement.”
Earlier this month, Senator Jeff Sessions wrote President Obama to ask him to make a section of the Trans Pacific Partnership public – the section that creates a “new transnational governance structure known as the Trans Pacific Partnership Commission” which would “have the authority to amend the agreement after its adoption, to add new members, and to issue regulations impacting labor, immigration, environmental and commercial policy.”
The senator was frustrated by the secrecy surrounding the text. To read it, he had to visit the secret reading room in the basement of the Capitol Visitors center where legislators can read the text, while being watched by security guards. He is unable to discuss anything he has read with advisers, staffers, or the people he represents.
Though the recently scheduled Ministerial meeting was postponed – reflecting other countries’ frustration with the United States’ inability to win Congressional passage of Fast Track trade negotiating authority – the intellectual property negotiators have been attempting to finalize as much text as possible.
The Japan Times reports that the intellectual property chapter appears “likely to be the last hurdle to concluding the talks.” Remaining issues that are under debate include copyright term, geographical indications, and data exclusivity (a time period during which generic firms cannot win approval of their products based on clinical data previously disclosed by branded firms).