[Swaraj Paul Barooah, SpicyIP, reposted from with author’s permission] In a very welcome and quick response to USTR’s Special 301 Out of Cycle Review (OCR) process for India that opened for comments a couple of days ago (October 14th), the Government of India has told the American authorities that they will not be cooperating with this unilateral process, writes Nayanima Basu in the Business Standard.
[Gabriel Michael, ‘To Promote the Progress?’ Blog, Link (CC-BY-SA)] My previous post discussed how Special 301′s enforcement mechanism has rarely been used, and is even less likely to be used in the future. But the frequency with which an enforcement mechanism is used is not a measure of effectiveness. We don’t measure the effectiveness of criminal justice systems by the number of people in jail (at least, we shouldn’t). Perhaps Special 301 is effective in accomplishing its goals even without resort to its enforcement mechanism.
On April 30, the United States Trade Representative released the 2014 Special 301 Report, which fulfills its mandate under the Trade Act (19 U.S.C. § 2242) to identify countries that “deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, or deny fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection.” The report is based partially on input including the public comments and hearing statements that are available on regulations.gov, and partially on other inputs such as meetings with other government agencies. Below are six observations:
In the weeks leading up to today’s publication of the Special 301 report, Indian officials were reportedly ready to file a challenge to the program in the World Trade Organization. That threat seems to have been avoided by the USTR refusing industry calls to list India as a “priority foreign country.” This follows USTRs decision to suspend a 301 investigation of Ukraine because of the political situation in that country. This leaves the 2014 list again with no priority foreign countries listed.
The Office of the US Trade Representative’s 2014 Special 301 Report is expected out shortly. The 301 Report places countries on a watch list for practices the US Government believes reflect “inadequate” intellectual property protection, even when these policies protect important public interests including health.
Public Citizen submitted comments in February to inform this year’s 301 Report. We address the TRIPS compliance and public interest value of specific rules and practices in India, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Peru, Philippines and Turkey. We also criticize 301 – the process should be discontinued entirely – and articulate several principles which could be applied to make meaningful the US Government’s relevant public health commitments, by not listing countries for public interest practices that comply with international rules.
We the undersigned organizations and individuals are writing this letter to urge you to reject the pressure tactics of the United States (US) administration against India and to resist and challenge such US unilateral threats at multilateral forum.
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently announced that it would not seek sanctions against Ukraine following its designation as a Priority Foreign Country in the Special 301 process last year. The notice states that the USTR sticks by its finding that “certain intellectual property rights (IPR) acts, policies, and practices of Ukraine are unreasonable and burden or restrict United States commerce and are thus actionable under section 301(b) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (Trade Act).” But it is not taking action “[i]n light of the current political situation in Ukraine.” There is another reason USTR is not taking any action – sanctioning Ukraine or any other World Trade Organization member under Special 301 would violate the WTO.
We thank and appreciate the interest of the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in allowing us to participate in the Special 301 hearing. We remain hopeful that our impartial, expert contribution to the process will assist the USTR’s efforts in assessing the legality of India’s intellectual property protections under binding international law and determining whether it is being deployed in an illegal protectionist manner against U.S. right holders.
[Reposted from Karisma.org.co, Link, (CC-BY-SA)] Como cada año la USTR (Oficina de Comercio del Gobierno de EE.UU) elabora su Informe Especial 301 que es simplemente una lista negra de los países piratas que ha sido ampliamente criticada como ilegítima pues es unilateral (desconoce los canales internacionales acordados en la Organización Mundial de Comercio para resolver conflictos de este tipo), resulta una afrenta a la soberanía de los países y en todo caso es el resultado de un procedimiento arbitrario.
[Brook Baker and Matt Kavanagh] Health GAP submits these comments in response to written and oral submissions made by PhRMA and other trade associations attacking India’s intellectual property regime, particularly its issuance of a compulsory license on a Bayer cancer medicine and the adoption of section 3(d) to the Indian Amended Patents Act and its Supreme Court decision thereunder denying a patent on a Novartis medicine. The referenced submissions by opponents to the India IP regime can be found at http://www.keionline.org/ustr/Special301.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is currently investigating “Indian industrial policies that discriminate against U.S. imports… and the effect those barriers have on the U.S. economy and U.S. jobs.” The investigation was requested by Sen. Hatch, Sen. Baucus, Rep. Camp, and Rep. Levin, and the final report is due to be released in November. Last week it held a series of hearings, where it heard from U.S. business, Indian business, and civil society representatives.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) investigation of Trade, Investment, and Industrial Policies in India: Effects on the U.S. Economy held its second and third hearing on Friday, February 14. This blog contains notes on the third hearing, which was focused on IP and pharmaceuticals. Witnesses from PhRMA, Sonecon, Bayer, Knowledge Ecology International, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Public Citizen testified. Notes on the ITC investigation’s first panel are here, and notes on the second panel are here. Videos of the hearings have been posted here by Knowledge Ecology International.