[Médecins Sans Frontières, Link] Ahead of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Conference to be held in Myanmar on 27-28 August 2014, see the letter below from Medecins Sans Frontieres addressed to the Indian Minister of State for Commerce & Industry regarding the inclusion of intellectual property (IP) in the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and its potential impact on access to affordable generic medicines from India.
Inside U.S. Trade reports that Taiwan is taking steps to develop a system of patent linkage, which would prevent generic firms from gaining marketing approval for their products while originator products are still under patent. The country wants to join the Trans Pacific Partnership at a later date, and it expects that patent linkage will be one of the requirements for countries wishing to acceded to the Agreement.
A new website has been launched today (www.tppnocertification.org) that documents the extraordinary process of ‘certification’ through which the United States claims the right to vet and approve other countries laws before it will allow a trade and investment treaty to come into force.
This process has existed for many years, but it has been used more intensively in the past decade because Congress was dissatisfied with how some countries had been implementing their US free trade agreements.
Abstract: For years, the United States has included intellectual property (“IP”) law in its free trade agreements. This Article finds that the IP law in recent U.S. free trade agreements differs subtly but significantly from U.S. IP law. These differences are not the result of deliberate government choices, but of the capture of the U.S. trade regime.
Maude Barlow is the chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and the founder of the Blue Planet Project. She is a recipient of Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award, and a Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship. As well as being a noted human rights and trade activist, Barlow is the author of a number of books on water rights – including Blue Gold, Blue Covenant, and Blue Future. She has been particularly vocal on the impact of trade and investment agreements upon water rights. Barlow has been critical of the push to include investor-state dispute settlement clauses in trade agreements – such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP). She has also been concerned by the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) leaked by WikiLeaks.
[Matthew Schewel for Inside U.S. Trade] A confidential Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating document obtained by Inside U.S. Trade sheds new light on the extent of disagreement that remains over controversial provisions on intellectual property (IP) protection for pharmaceuticals, roughly three months ahead of a November target for producing a substantial outcome in the talks.
The two-page document, which outlines potential options, or “landing zones,” for resolving pharmaceutical IP issues, indicates that TPP countries have coalesced around a U.S. proposal under which less-developed members would be able to temporarily provide a lower standard of drug IP protection than more developed members.
But it shows that TPP countries are still at odds over the substantive obligations that would be required for each standard, as well as the mechanism for transitioning countries from the lower standard to the higher one.
Tyler Snell, Digital Rights LAC, Link (CC-BY-SA)
A growing pernicious trend that is greatly affecting digital policy around the world is called “policy laundering” – the use of secretive international trade agreements to pressure countries to commit to restrictive or overly broad laws that would not ordinarily pass a transparent, democratic process.
[Ombudsman Press Release, Link] The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has called on the Council of the European Union to publish the EU negotiating directives for the on-going Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations with the US. She has also proposed to the European Commission a range of practical measures to enable timely public access to TTIP documents, and to details of meetings with stakeholders. She has opened investigations involving both institutions.
Inside US Trade reports that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told reporters Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators are “down to a dozen issues” in the intellectual property chapter. However, these are among the most difficult issues remaining. The remaining unsolved issues include intellectual property and access to medicines (which is really a set of different issues), where countries are still split on what the obligations should be for low and middle income countries. Additionally, Congressional Democrats recently met with Froman, where they produced a memo warning that the TPP doesn’t reflect the May 10th agreement on data protection, linkage, and patent term extensions in developing countries.
Readers of this blog may be interested in checking out the text of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, which was signed on July 8. The intellectual property chapter contains many of the copyright, trademark, and enforcement provisions under debate in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. It also contains provisions on plant varieties and geographical indications. (Patents are included, but are not covered as extensively as other forms of IPR).
[Joint press release by eight civil society organizations, PDF] BRUSSELS—Several European and American health NGOs publicly criticised the inclusion of investor-to-state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) today, warning that it will undermine public health policies of European Union (EU) Member States and severely jeopardise access to affordable medicines and public health protection.
[Meera Nair, Fair Duty, Link (CC-BY)] ]Last week, international negotiators met in Ottawa to further discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. With the usual shroud of secrecy, few details regarding agenda and outcomes were released for public consumption. Nevertheless, based on a leaked copy of the chapter relating to intellectual property, there is sufficient reason for concern with respect to copyright. As reported last week (see Electronic Frontier Foundation here, Michael Geist here, Public Knowledge here, and VICE here) Canada’s copyright regime is likely to be challenged on at least two fronts: