[Andy for TorrentFreak, Link (CC-BY-NC)] ISPs have condemned negotiations on a potential update of Swiss copyright law that is being influenced by the U.S. Government and entertainment companies. According to the ISPs the secret anti-piracy discussions, from which they were excluded, have so far yielded “useless” proposals including web blocking and file-sharer warnings. “We reject the monitoring of Internet traffic on principle,” a spokesman said.
The U.S. pharmaceutical industry and its Big Brother Chamber of Commerce have launched an all-out disinformation campaign against the India Patent Act and decisions rendered thereunder. They have enlisted allies in the U.S. government, including Members of Congress, the United States International Trade Commission, Secretary of State Kerry, and even President Obama, to carry their claims to the highest levels of the Indian government. They have threatened to insist that the U.S. file a WTO trade complaints against India in 2014 and that India no longer be permitted to export duty-free products to the U.S. under the Generalized System of Preferences.
Abstract: Policy is made in small-scale situations mediated by language. This article examines the ways in which the United States Trade Representative establishes a mandate by esoterically interpreting canonical texts and then using that mandate to filter testimony. Its goal is to maintain a watch list of countries that disrespect intellectual property. This involves managing intertextual relations in ways that efface some perspectives and highlight others, while creating three subjectivities: industry, public interest, and foreign governments.
After losing two patent cases before the appellate courts of a Western democracy, should a disgruntled foreign multinational pharmaceutical company be free take that country to private arbitration claiming that its expectations of monopoly profits had been thwarted by the courts’ decisions? Should governments continue to negotiate trade agreements where expansive Intellectual Property-related investor rights and investor- state dispute settlement (ISDS) are enshrined into hard law?
On September 12, Eli Lilly formally submitted a Notice of Arbitration against Canada under the rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The filing is here.
Eli Lilly alleges that Canada violated its NAFTA intellectual property obligations when its courts found the patents for two of its drugs to be invalid. The drug patents in question – covering Lilly’s products Strattera and Zyprexa – had been successfully challenged by generic firms in 2009 and 2010, which argued that the patents failed to meet Canadian usefulness standards.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Trade Representative issued a request for public comments regarding the 2014 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE Report). Comments may be submitted by “any interested person,” and they are due on October 22, 2013.
The NTE report is defined in the request for comments as an annual report that “sets out an inventory of the most important foreign barriers affecting U.S. exports of goods and services, U.S. foreign direct investment, and protection of intellectual property rights. The inventory facilitates U.S. negotiations aimed at reducing or eliminating these barriers.”
[Treatment Action Campaign, Link (CC-BY-SA)]
Dear Ambassador Froman,
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) of South Africa is extremely concerned with recent attempts by the US government to discourage and curb the globe’s supply of affordable generic medicines available from India. Specifically, we object to the placement of India on the US ‘Special 301 Watch List’ over objections to the country’s intellectual property system, as well as subsequent condemnation from Members of Congress stemming from US pharmaceutical industry pressure, and attempts by a group of US commercial businesses (under the banner of ‘Alliance for Fair Trade with India’) to influence Vice President Biden’s current meetings in India.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda is moving forward with plans “to suspend certain concessions and other obligations relating to United States intellectual property rights” in retaliation for the US’s violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services. The WTO has already found that the US violated the terms of the services agreement by banning online gambling on websites hosted offshore, and it has authorized Antigua and Barbuda’s suspension of American IP benefits as a form of trade retaliation.
Today a Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the topic: “A Tangle of Trade Barriers: How India’s Industrial Policy is Hurting U.S. Companies.” Much of the hearing focused on intellectual property and pharmaceuticals, though other issues such as SOEs and subsides to local solar power firms were also discussed. All of the Committee Members who asked about IP – with the exception Henry Waxman – seemed to accept as a matter of fact that India’s use of compulsory licenses and restriction on patentability were a barrier to trade and a possible trade violation.
Big Pharma shows its influence in the Senate Finance Committee
[Reposted with permission from Oxfam America (Link)] Teenagers are notorious for giving one-word responses when their parents inquire how school is going. Last week’s Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on Michael Froman’s nomination as US Trade Representative reminded me of this dynamic.
Because so much of the interrogation airtime was devoted to grandstanding, rather than actual questioning, Mr. Froman seemed to have little option other than to say “yes” and express his willingness to work with a Senator on an issue. Teenagers will say just enough to end their parents’ lecturing and get them off of their backs, eye rolls an added bonus. Well-intentioned parents, after all, were teenagers once too and want to impart their knowledge.
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.
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.