Today’s New York Times features a story on a leaked draft outline the Trump Administration’s upcoming Executive Order on drug pricing. According to the Times, “the document directs the United States trade representative to conduct a study of price differences between the United States and other countries, and to review trade agreements that may need to be revised ‘to promote greater intellectual property protection and competition in the global market’.”
The AU Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property has been working over several years on empirical research pertaining to the impact of balanced copyright systems on trade and economic development. One key element of an adequately balanced copyright system is having sufficiently “open” limitations and exceptions for the digital environment. We refer to “open” limitations and exceptions for the digital environment as those that are open to the use of any kind of work, by any kind of user and for any purpose, as long as the use does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author. Such openness is the hallmark of the U.S. fair use clause. These “open” aspects are crucial because the digital environment creates new opportunities to use different kinds of works, by different users and for different purposes than were envisioned in most copyright statutes. An open statute is a flexible one – and flexibility is needed to accommodate and encourage innovation in the digital environment.
The South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, which is currently considering the Copyright Amendment Bill [B13-2017], has extended the deadline for the public to submit comments, and has postponed the public hearings which will now be held in August.
The formal notice seeking comments on the legislation – with the new dates – is available here (PDF).
South Africa has released the 2017 Copyright Amendment Bill for public comment. The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will accept written comments from the public through June 19, and will hold public hearings on the legislation June 27-29.
Six legal scholars from the Global Expert network on Copyright User Rights have sent an open letter to Parliamentarians to applaud the government for the Bill’s strengthening of user rights, and to make two suggestions.
Today, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), via a letter to Congressional leadership. The letter is less detailed than last March’s draft notification, and unlike the March draft, it includes no specific negotiating objectives. Rather, the letter that was sent today notes “our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs, procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises.” The letter also says that the Administration will develop negotiating positions that are consistent with the objectives found in Section 102 of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act.
[Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge press release, Link (CC-BY)] In a move that could strike down barriers to treatment for the exploding hepatitis C epidemic that kills 700,000 people every year, attorneys and scientists from the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK) filed a legal challenge against Gilead’s (NASDAQ:GILD) remaining patent for the hepatitis C medicine sofosbuvir in China. Branded as Sovaldi®, this patent covers the sofosbuvir base compound and is founded on previously published techniques, and does not meet the legal criteria for a patent. This new filing follows another legal challenge filed by I-MAK in 2015, which helped result in a rejection in June 2015 by China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) on the other critical patent application on sofosbuvir. SIPO found that this patent, covering the prodrug that activates the otherwise inactive base compound in the body, did not deserve a patent under the law.
Here is the Trump administration’s draft notice of intent to renegotiate NAFTA, which was put out by Inside U.S. Trade. The administration says many elements of the agreement as it currently stands are “clearly outdated,” and that FTA provisions on intellectual property rights have been “improved in newer trade agreements.”
A few excerpts of interest to readers of this blog follow. These are what are listed in the letter as “specific negotiating objectives.”
NAFTA dispute panel arbitrators are reported to have issued a decision in the dispute brought by Eli Lilly against the government of Canada, though the decision has not been made public yet. Lilly had alleged that Canada’s patentability requirements had an overly high standard of what was considered ‘useful’, causing it to lose patent cases, and that this had violated NAFTA’s requirement that each country grant patents on inventions that “are new, result from an inventive step and are capable of industrial application.”
On March 29, PIJIP will team up with the American University International Law Review and a number of other organizations to host a one-day conference: Globalizing Fair Use: Exploring the Diffusion of General, Open and Flexible Exceptions in Copyright Law.
9:00 – 3:30: An academic symposium co-hosted by PIJIP and the American University International Law Review will exploring new directions in domestic and international copyright law promoting adoption of general copyright exceptions that are open and flexible. Click here for the symposium agenda.
Delivered March 8, 2017 at the Open Hearing that USTR conducted as part of the 2017 Special 301 Review
Thank you for the opportunity to testify at this hearing. My name is Mike Palmedo, and I work for American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP). We are an academic research program that promotes the public interest in IP policy. Much of my recent research at PIJIP has involved the comparison of copyright limitations in different countries, and the examination of outcomes associated with different copyright limitation structures.
[Natalia Mileszyk, Communia Association, Link (CC-0)] The Rapporteur Marc Joulaud of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) recognises the problem with proposed article 11 regarding protection of press publications concerning digital uses – it can threaten hyperlinking and various ways users use content online. In Communia’s opinion the Commission’s proposal to introduce a right for press publishers is poorly aligned to the objective of modernising the EU copyright framework and adapting it to the challenges of a fast-evolving digital environment. In the light of the above we believe that the only solution is to remove the whole idea from the directive. This is not the approach shared by CULT – instead 3 problematic changes were proposed:
Twenty trade associations have written the House and Senate leadership urging Congressional engagement on the trade relationship between the U.S. and India. Their letter identifies intellectual property protection as an “ongoing challenge.” It highlights diplomatic structures where the countries have discussed IP and other issues, then notes that “WTO dispute settlement has played and should continue to play a key role in ensuring that India follows through on its international commitments.”