[Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign] The European Union’s (EU) free trade and research and development (R&D) policies promote excessive intellectual property (IP) protection. This approach jeopardises access to affordable, needed medicines and impedes needs-driven biomedical innovation. Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign and our partners at HAI Europe and Oxfam are offering policy-makers seven straight-forward solutions that could transform harmful trade and R&D policy. By taking these solutions on board, the EU could enhance medicines access and pharmaceutical innovation in the EU and around the world.
The 12 heads of state of the nations negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) met in Beijing today, where they issued a statement indicating they have”instructed our Ministers and negotiators to make concluding this agreement a top priority.” However, their statement did not discuss a deadline or timeframe.
They also released a “Trade Ministers’ Report to Leaders,” which aimed to show that the pace of negotiations has “accelerated” and negotiators have made progress in many areas. On the topic of intellectual property negotiations, however, the report hints that negotiators are having trouble (they are “working hard” through a “challenging” area). Here is the full bullet on this part of the negotiations:
Abstract: The United States has some of the highest standards of intellectual property protection in the world, though many copyright and patent laws in the United States are limited through balancing provisions that provide exceptions to the exclusive rights conferred by the intellectual property system. The United States has engaged in efforts to raise intellectual property standards worldwide through creation of new global norms, such as through negotiations of free trade agreements like the currently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Higher levels of intellectual property protection be unnecessary to attract investment in developing countries. In fact, increasing intellectual property standards may actually result in negative impacts on development for low- and middle-income countries. This paper examines the role of intellectual property rules in attracting investment for developing countries.
Abstract: This paper analyses certain key provisions of the leaked 16 May 2014 text of the TPP IP Chapter – mostly, the ones people haven’t been talking about: particularly the trade mark, designs, and geographical indications provisions, as well as rules regarding national treatment, the preamble or objectives clauses, and the criminal liability provisions. It also makes some limited comments about the interaction between the chapter and investor-state dispute settlement.
Trade secrecy, arguably the most active but least understood and studied of intellectual property’s doctrines, is on the rise. Over the past two years, there has been increased legislative activity in this space — the most since the revision of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in 1985. Most prominently, it has been the subject of an alarming report out of the White House documenting increasing risk to US corporations from state-sponsored cyberespionage. Based upon those significant but hard to quantify harms, bills have been introduce in Congress over the past few years designed to amplify the options for aggrieved companies. The perceived inadequacies in the current law have spurred the most recent legislation, known as the Defend Trade Secrets Act and Trade Secrets Protection Act.
The newly leaked May 16 draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership intellectual property chapter confirms previous reports that negotiators are discussing plans to postpone some of the TRIPS-Plus obligations on intellectual property and pharmaceuticals for some of the countries involved.
It includes as an addendum a “Proposal on Patent Pharmaceuticals Transition Periods” that would establish three “categories” of country, which are relatively high, middle, and low income. The relatively middle and low income countries would have transition periods that delayed their obligations related to patent extensions, linkage, and data exclusivity. After relatively short transition periods, all countries would have to apply the TRIPS-Plus rules that the World Health Organization warns may have “adverse impacts on access to medicines.” (p.72)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a sweeping trade agreement, spanning the Pacific Rim, and covering an array of topics, including intellectual property. There has been much analysis of the recently leaked intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by WikiLeaks. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief, observed “The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny. By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.” Critical attention has focused upon the lack of transparency surrounding the agreement, copyright law and the digital economy; patent law, pharmaceutical drugs, and data protection; and the criminal procedures and penalties for trade secrets. The topic of trade mark law and related rights, such as internet domain names and geographical indications, deserves greater analysis.
For Immediate Release
Health GAP (Global Access Project)
Contact: Paul Davis: +1 202 817 0129
Wikileaks has released a 77-page document revealing the negotiation positions of the twelve Pacific rim countries locked in negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. The leaks reveal nothing but bad news for hundreds of millions of people living both in rich and poor countries whose access to affordable medicines will be threatened by the patent extremism that the White House seeks to export and impose on TPP trading partners.
Today, Wikileaks has released a draft text of the Trans Pacific Partnership intellectual property chapter, dated May 14, 2014. This is the most up-to-date source for the text, which is kept secret by negotiators, despite numerous calls for its release. (The previous leak, upon which much of the recent TPP analysis was based, was from August 2013.)
The full text is available here. Also see comments on it from Knowledge Ecology International, Public Citizen, Derechos Digitales, Association of Research Libraries, Médecins Sans Frontières, Michael Geist, Margot Kaminski and a Wall Street Journal Story by Ed Silverman. More to come soon!
Brand name pharmaceutical companies are advocating for inclusion of disciplines on public pharmaceutical reimbursement programs in the ongoing negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreements. This post answers some frequently asked questions by U.S. public health advocates about these proposals.
Why is pharmaceutical reimbursement policy being negotiated in trade agreements?
Oxfam press release, Link
Insufficient innovation and a lack of access to affordable medicines are major barriers to achieving the right to health in low- and middle-income countries.
This paper argues that European Union trade policies should not be used to bolster pharmaceutical companies’ profits by extending their monopolies on medicine prices to supposedly reward research. Instead, the incoming European Commission must defend a trade and R&D model that is coherent with its development and public health objectives, and that supports innovative R&D models that create new, affordable medicines.