Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to the Obama Administration’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, asking him to “immediately make fully public ” the negotiating text of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). If that is not possible, Sen. Warren asked Froman to make public a “scrubbed” version which would include the language under negotiation, while hiding which country or countries proposed which version of text. She emphasized the need for the public to see the text in order to weigh in on the debate over the agreement, which will affect the internet and access to medicines, saying “I believe in transparency and democracy, and I think the U.S. Trade Representative should too.”
Peruvian Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism José Silva Martinot – asked about intellectual property (IP) provisions proposed by the United States in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations – said on television that Peru will not accept terms that exceed those in its existing bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. The minister said “We as Peru have been clear and we will not go one millimeter beyond what has already negotiated.”
Peruvian officials have indicated their reluctance to exceed US-Peru FTA provisions on IP in the past, but recently they have come under increasing pressure not to give in to U.S. demands.
Empowered by investment provisions in free trade agreements, corporations have challenged national laws, policies, and practices that protect the environment and public health. Phillip Morris’ challenges to cigarette plain packaging rules in Uruguay and Australia are the latest examples of such corporate actions. The Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) also contains an investment chapter similar to the investment chapter in many FTAs. Would that chapter give corporations the same powers as other FTAs? Could it be used to challenge national measures designed to increase access to knowledge? Could it be used to challenge limits to copyright meant to protect consumers?
Last Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee held its confirmation hearing for the Obama Administration’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman. The hearing webpage has a webcast and prepared statements by Froman, as well as Chairman Baucus and Ranking Minority Leader Hatch. The opening statements were brief, so most of the hearing was Q&A. Themes that repeatedly came up were intellectual property protection in India and online, and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Senators Wyden and Baucus also discussed the transparency of trade negotiations. Baucus closed the hearing with a discussion of the role of the limitations and benefits of conducting trade policy within the multilateral trading system.
Last week Jim McDermott wrote an op-ed in Roll Call on the TPP in which he warned that the U.S. proposal for intellectual property in the TPP could “cost millions of lives in developing countries.” McDermott wrote that the proposal extends patent monopolies on pharmaceuticals further than TRIPS: “It would extend patents beyond the current 20-year norm and block national regulators from using existing clinical trial data to approve the production of generic or “bio-similar” drugs. Alarmingly, the proposal also outlaws ‘pre-grant opposition’ that allows doctors and patients to provide information to their governments about patents they believe do not meet national rules, an important democratic safeguard. The proposal also requires the patenting of new versions of old medicines, even when the new versions offer no additional therapeutic benefits. It even requires patenting of surgical, therapeutic and diagnostic methods, which not only is unethical but also could increase medical liability and the cost of practice.”
The central point of this submission is that the TTIP negotiation should exclude intellectual property issues. It should exclude IP issues because the US trade policy lacks IP proposals that have the kind of broad-based support necessary to be adopted in a trade negotiation of this kind – i.e. one that is ultimately multilateral, requiring consent by a wide range of diverse countries. This is the prime lesson that should be drawn from the failure of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and the Free Trade Area of the Americas before it, as well as from the current deadlock in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation. It is the prime lesson of the mounting evidence that our bilateral commitments do not contain sufficient flexibility to accommodate current proposals to amend our own intellectual property laws. US trade policy on intellectual property needs to be rethought. In the mean time, there should be a moratorium on any new efforts to negotiate IP commitments in trade forums that are not fully open, transparent and accommodating of the full range of inputs necessary to produce good policy.
Consumers International (CI) has commissioned the production of three papers, the first on the competition chapter by one of our members, and the other two by independent experts, respectively covering the investment chapter and how it affects A2K, and the free flow of information provision and its impacts on privacy. The papers are now available for your reading pleasure!
For many non-U.S. parties and public interest advocates, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) intellectual property chapter is seen primarily as a threat. It is the latest step in a long running agenda to shift between policy making forums to achieve new global “maximalist” intellectual property policies that are not achievable in multilateral forums. This narrative is correct. And the real politics of the negotiation suggests that the most positive outcome for the IP chapter may be its (or the larger agreement’s) failure. But the agreement’s negotiations does offer opportunities to discuss what a positive IP chapter might look like. Here is one more idea in that larger dialogue – ban the use of Special 301 between its parties.
As the Trans Pacific Partnership creeps toward an end game (which appears far off) it may be worth spending more time discussing positive proposals for amending the proposal in various ways. I have previously written on ideas for positive proposals from the perspective of the non-U.S. parties, both in the form of a short list of proposals and in a longer jointly-written article. This note focuses on copyright proposals for the TPP that should be of interest to U.S. negotiators in order to bring their proposal in line with their expressed policy goals as well as with recent copyright reform proposals discussed in Congress and by the Librarian of Congress.
LIMA – There is a strong sense in the halls of the current TPP negotiation that the end is not in sight. And one of the primary reasons for the blocked progress is a lack of consensus on intellectual property and pharmaceuticals issues.
Officially, the Chief Negotiators have backed off the prior commitment to end the TPP negotiation by October, but are still clinging to a goal to end the negotiation by the “end of the year.” But it is increasingly clear that even that goal is not achievable. The issues still under contention are massive.
[internetnz.net.nz, (CC-BY)] The Fair Deal Coalition announces that it is ramping up its presence with a global publicity and education campaign that will raise awareness of intellectual property rights proposals in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
A new website – www.ourfairdeal.org – has today been launched and a string of new Coalition members announced – including US-based Fight for the Future, the Australian Library & Information Association, Japan-based Movement for the Internet Active Users and US-based Open Media.
Trade negotiators are meeting in Lima, Peru this week for the seventeenth round of talks on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The negotiations are reaching the final stages as an October deadline approaches, and the most controversial topics have been pushed to the end.
The intersection of intellectual property and access to medicines is one such controversial area. Advocates for access to medicines have warned that many intellectual property provisions sought by the United States will delay the introduction of generic medicines, thereby keeping the costs of medicines high. These provisions include extensions of patent terms, extension of patentable subject matter, and data exclusivity. This blog 1) gives a quick overview of data exclusivity, 2) points to data showing how it raised drug prices in three countries where it was implemented to meet trade obligations, 3) gives a note about the questionable link between exclusivity and investment, and 4) explores alternatives to data exclusivity and limitations on data exclusivity from previous trade agreements.