Representatives Waxman, Lee, DeLauro, Schakowsky, and Bass have sent a letter to Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis supporting a proposal by Haiti to allow poor countries extra time to enact stronger rules on patent, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property.
The issue involves the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which requires countries to adopt certain intellectual property standards. For instance, the TRIPS Agreement requires 20 year patents on all inventions (including medicines) and long copyrights on most works (including textbooks). TRIPS rules give IP owners the ability to set monopoly prices for goods, which can be unaffordable for many, especially in poor countries. Therefore, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) were granted extra time to implement TRIPS when the WTO was established, and this transition period was subsequently extended. Continue reading »