Matthew Rimmer argues that Big Tobacco has been engaged in a dark, shadowy plot and conspiracy to hijack the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and undermine tobacco control measures – such as graphic health warnings and the plain packaging of tobacco products.
As Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators began this week’s round of talks in Hanoi, the International Chamber of Commerce issued a white paper urging the inclusion of strong trade secret provisions in the agreement.
“Trade Secrets: Tools for Innovation and Collaboration” argues that trade secret theft has been growing since the 1990s, both within countries and across borders. Stronger protection is needed in order for businesses to operate within today’s systems of collaborative innovation and cross-border development.
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.
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.
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.
[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:
[Jeremy Malcolm and Maira Sutton, EFF, Link (CC-BY)] Due to the unprecedented secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations taking place this week in Ottawa, there was no formal opportunity to engage with negotiators about the concerns that EFF and many others have expressed—over issues such as the extension of copyright protection by 20 years, and the delegation of ISPs as copyright police with the power to remove content and terminate accounts.
With the alternative of allowing this round of negotiations to proceed without any public input on these important issues (and bearing in mind the maxim “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad…”), EFF and its partners in the Our Fair Deal coalition decided to hold a side event of our own next to the venue of the negotiations. TPP negotiators were invited to watch keynote talks by two of Canada’s top copyright experts.
[Jeremy Malcolm and Maira Sutton, EFF, Link, (CC-BY)] Today, EFF and its partners in the global Our Fair Deal coalition join together with an even more diverse international network of creators, innovators, start-ups, educators, libraries, archives and users to release two new open letters to negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP, although characterized as a free trade agreement, is actually far broader in its intended scope. Amongst many changes to which it could require the twelve negotiating countries to agree are a slate of increased rights and privileges for copyright rights holders.
Negotiators from the 12 countries negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership are meeting in Singapore this week. Much of the press coverage has focused on differences between the U.S. and Japan over agricultural subsidies that have been difficult to overcome. However, there have been new developments on intellectual property as it relates to access to medicines.
Negotiators had previously been discussing a differential treatment plan, under which the TPP countries still “developing” would have been exempt from certain obligations on patent and data protection. This plan is reportedly still on the table.