[Arul George Scaria and Anubha Sinha for LiveLaw.in, Link] Negotiators from sixteen countries are currently meeting in Hyderabad for discussing a free trade agreement titled Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Looking at the latest available IP chapter (leak dated October 15, 2015), RCEP stands to adversely affect nearly half of the world’s population on areas like access to knowledge and access to medicines. We would like to highlight five issues related to access to knowlege/cultural goods, based on the leaked IP chapter.
In an April 29, 2017 executive order, President Trump directed USTR and the Department of Commerce to submit within 180 days a report that reviews trade agreement performance, identifies trade abuses, and pursues trade remedies.
NAFTA Modernization Hearing, International Trade Commission
USTR-2017-0006 | June 27, 2017
See also: Written Comment on NAFTA Modernization, submitted jointly with Sean Flynn
My name is Michael Palmedo, and I work for the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) at the American University Washington College of Law. We have an interdisciplinary project that studies the economic effects of legal provisions in copyright laws, specifically copyright limitations that are relied upon by various firms in the information and research sectors. I manage the economic side of this research, which is partially funded by Google. In this testimony, I will share information from our research indicating that the promotion of balanced copyright systems promotes U.S. trade interests, and should therefore be included in the NAFTA renegotiation objectives.
This week the U.S. government’s Trade Policy Staff Committee, an inter-agency group headed by the U.S. Trade Representative, will be holding a three-day open hearing on NAFTA. The purpose of the hearing, as stated in the Federal Register Notice, is to “assist USTR as it develops its negotiating objectives and positions for the agreement.” The hearing runs from Tuesday, June 27 through Thursday, June 29. It will held at the International Trade Commission building, and will be webcast on ustr.gov. (Tuesday will definitely be webcast, and USTR is ‘awaiting livestream confirmation’ at the time I am writing this.)
143 people will testify. The panels with witnesses that seem the most dedicated to intellectual property run from 4:45 to 8:00 on Tuesday evening. The full schedule is here.
Abstract: The pharmaceutical industry extensively relies on the patent system. It actively lobbies for the strengthening of patent protection of its medical products and the results of its efforts may be found in the majority of bilateral and multilateral agreements, including the TRIPS and the most recent TPPA, augmented by private patent strategies pursued by pharmaceutical companies. However, some recent developments show the emerging tendency of implementing different business models by pharmaceutical companies that may mark the beginning of transformation of this industry. Among these developments is an ‘open innovation’ model, which has increasingly been followed by some research institutions and pharmaceutical companies aiming at facilitating the creation of new and affordable medicines, as well as providing transparency in order to enhance safety and efficacy of drugs. This article will discuss these two current developments in the pharmaceutical industry, i.e. strong IP protection against open innovation.
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.
Reposted from EFF Deeplinks Blog, Link (CC-BY)
The dust has barely settled from the collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and already a new trade battle is ahead of us: the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). President Trump called the controversial 1994 agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico “the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.” But compared to the TPP, there’s a lot to like about the original NAFTA from a digital rights perspective: it doesn’t extend the term of copyright, it doesn’t require countries to prohibit DRM circumvention, and it doesn’t include new and untested rules to regulate the Internet.
Joint letter signed by 43 civil society organizations
Dear Ministers: As organisations representing health professionals and health advocates from countries that are signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), we write to convey our deep concerns about reports that some of the remaining TPP parties are considering resurrecting the TPP following the U.S. withdrawal, and to reiterate concerns raised with you previously regarding its negative impacts on people’s right to health, access to affordable medicines, and the ability of governments to regulate health-damaging activities of corporations.
[ReCreate press release, Link (CC-BY)] As the Trump Administration notifies Congress of its intent to negotiate changes to NAFTA, the Re:Create Coalition today issued a statement urging the Office of the United States Trade Representative to include language on copyright limitations and exceptions, including fair use, if copyright law is part of the negotiations:
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.
Jeremy de Beer, Jeremiah Baarbé, Caroline Ncube
Open AIR Working Paper #4; LINK
Innovation policy is important for economic growth and human development. Countries across Africa are, therefore, developing policy to encourage innovation. Measures that address intellectual property (IP) in a locally relevant way are integral to the broader innovation landscape.
IP policy is complex and controversial because it seeks to balance protection of, and access to, knowledge. Policy that leads to either an absence or overabundance of proprietary IP rights may discourage innovation. Domestic policymakers may look to research showing that strict IP protection economically advantages developed countries while disadvantaging developing countries. Similarly, they may be presented with research supporting a contrary view. Evidence-based IP policy-making is, therefore, not always easy.