This post uses two common indicators of innovation to see how the technology hardware sector compares in countries with and without fair use. It illustrates that research and development spending by firms in these industries has been higher in countries with fair use, controlling for other firm- and country-level factors. It then shows more patents have been granted to the technology sector in countries that have adopted fair use, relative to patents granted to firms in the same industries in other countries, controlling for other country-level factors.
Jan Schakowsky and U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and John McCain introduced H.R. 5573; the Price Relief, Innovation and Competition for Essential Drugs (PRICED) Act. As reported on congress.gov, the bill would “amend the Public Health Service Act to shorten the exclusivity period for brand name biological products from 12 to 7 years.” (The full text has not yet been uploaded.) This would allow generic firms to enter the market sooner, pulling down prices through competition.
A press release by Rep. Schakowsky notes that the legislation has been endorsed by a number of large civil society groups, including AARP, and the AFL-CIO. It also lists Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) as co-sponsors in the House.
I’ve written before on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International Intellectual Property Index, which ranks the strength of countries’ intellectual property protection based on publicly available information about the IP landscape in each country. This includes laws, regulations, court decisions, academic studies, analysis from bodies like OECD, and news stories. As I mentioned in my post on the 2014 index, a fair amount of subjectivity goes into the document, which ranks the U.S. #1 and is used to promote the expansion of U.S.-style intellectual property norms.
Today I came across James Nurton’s post on the Managing IP Blog about the multinational law firm Taylor Wessing’s Global Intellectual Property index (GIPI). This comparison of countries’ IP protection ranks the U.S. at 24 out of 43 – tied with Chile and occupying a neighborhood in the list among other countries the U.S. has accused of inadequate IP protection.
[Joint Letter Signed by 122 Experts – PDF in English and Spanish, with Signatures] Dear President Santos: We are lawyers, academics and other experts specializing in fields including intellectual property, trade and health, writing to affirm that international law and policy support Colombia´s right to issue compulsory licenses on patents in order to promote public interests including access to affordable medicines.
Previous infojustice posts about the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements have focused on its recommendation that Australia adopt fair use in its copyright law (here and here). This post highlights the findings regarding the extension of terms for pharmaceutical patents. Australia’s law, in effect since 1999, grants extensions to pharmaceutical firms to make up for time during which the patented drug is awaiting marketing approval. Total patent term may be extended up to a total of 25 years.
A draft report by the Australian Productivity Commission (APC) concludes that the current copyright law fails to properly balance the interests of copyright holders and users. It warns that “Australia’s copyright arrangements are weighed too heavily in favour of copyright owners, to the detriment of the long-term interests of both consumers and intermediate users.” The APC makes recommends changes to the law to address the imbalance, including “the introduction of a broad, principles-based fair use exception.” This follows the 2013 Australian Law Reform Commission report on Copyright in the Digital Economy, which also recommended that Australia amend its copyright law to include fair use.
Last week, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released the 2016 Special 301 Report. The report satisfies the longstanding legislative requirement that it identify “those foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), or deny fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection.” Countries are either identified as a Priority Foreign Country (which triggers a process that can lead to sanctions) or placed on the Priority Watch List or the Watch List.
The World Trade Organization prohibits Members from unilaterally sanctioning each other, so it has become rare for a country to be included as a Priority Foreign Country. However, this year a new law requires USTR to develop “action plans” with countries on the Priority Watch List and allows “appropriate actions” if the U.S. is unsatisfied with its trading partners’ progress on these plans.
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) has leaked draft texts of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) chapters on intellectual property and investment. The drafts are dated October 2015. RCEP is a large trade deal being negotiated by the ASEAN nations (Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and their current FTA partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand). Negotiations are happening this week in Perth, Australia.
Though RCEP is sometimes presented as a sort of non-U.S.-influenced alternative to the Trans Pacific Partnership, many of the same types of provisions are found in the IP and investment chapters.
The Pennsylvania Fair Trade Coalition (PFTC) has released questionnaires completed by candidates Sanders and Clinton on their views on the Trans Pacific Partnership. The questionnaires consist of ten questions and allow the candidates to give detailed answers. Topics include intellectual property and medicines, labor, environment, and fast track. Both candidates’ fully completed questionnaires are available in the PFTC press release. Question 4, on intellectual property and access to medicine, and each candidates’ full answer, are reproduced below:
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has announced a “work plan” with Honduras to strengthen IP enforcement there. According to a USTR press release, Honduras will “substantially increase the number of prosecutors specializing in criminal IPR enforcement by the end of this March. The GOH has also committed to publish quarterly reports on prosecution case activity, in order to promote transparency and accountability as this plan is implemented. Additionally, the Work Plan addresses signal piracy in cable and satellite transmissions. Prosecutors will work to efficiently resolve pending criminal investigations associated with this problem and GOH authorities will engage with rights holders to promote expanded use of administrative enforcement options. The GOH’s cable regulatory authorities have committed to accept right holder identification of authorized cable licensees, and to take appropriate administrative enforcement actions, including the imposition of fines and suspension of business licenses in appropriate cases. These regulatory authorities also committed to publish quarterly reports on administrative enforcement activity.” The work plan also addresses concerns over the scope of geographical indications.
Last week, President Obama signed the Trade Enforcement and Trade Facilitation Act of 2015 into law. It made news primarily due to the provisions allowing Customs to block entry of goods made by slave labor, but readers of this blog might also be interested in the section on trademark and copyright enforcement. The bill requires customs officers to share information with rightholders upon suspicion that an import is infringing, it allows the seizure of anti-circumvention tools, and it sets up a new IPR “Coordination Center” within Immigration and Customs Enforcement. There are also coordination, reporting and training requirements.
European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip has responded to Members of the European Parliament who expressed concern with the Commission’s consideration of ancillary copyright for press publishers as part of its upcoming copyright harmonization proposal. The so-called “Google tax”would allow press publishers to charge fees to search engines that include snippets of news stories in their search results. Vice President Ansip indicated that the Commission is undecided on whether to include the provision: