[Reposted from EFF Deeplinks, Link (CC-BY)] Last Friday the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released the 2017 edition of its Special 301 Report [PDF], which the USTR issues each year to “name and shame” other countries that the U.S. claims should be doing more to protect and enforce their copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Most of these demands exceed those countries’ legal obligations, which makes the Special 301 Report an instrument of political rhetoric, rather than a document with any international legal status.
NAFTA dispute panel arbitrators are reported to have issued a decision in the dispute brought by Eli Lilly against the government of Canada, though the decision has not been made public yet. Lilly had alleged that Canada’s patentability requirements had an overly high standard of what was considered ‘useful’, causing it to lose patent cases, and that this had violated NAFTA’s requirement that each country grant patents on inventions that “are new, result from an inventive step and are capable of industrial application.”
Twenty trade associations have written the House and Senate leadership urging Congressional engagement on the trade relationship between the U.S. and India. Their letter identifies intellectual property protection as an “ongoing challenge.” It highlights diplomatic structures where the countries have discussed IP and other issues, then notes that “WTO dispute settlement has played and should continue to play a key role in ensuring that India follows through on its international commitments.”
The U.S. Trade Representative has requested comments for the 2017 Special 301 Report, in which it lists countries that it alleges “deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection.” The content is based on written comments (mostly those submitted IP owners and business associations), testimony at a hearing, and on consultations with other governmental departments.
Any interested party may submit comments, and any interested party may testify at the open hearing. The deadline for submissions and requests to testify is February 9; the hearing is February 28; and the Special 301 Report will be released “On or about April 30.” See the Federal Register notice for further details and submission instructions.
Last week, the government of Antigua and Barbuda announced to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) that it will move forward with the “suspension of copyright on the sale of U.S. intellectual property” by the end of the year if the U.S. does not comply with the DSB’s findings in the long-running dispute regarding online gambling.
Twelve years ago, the DSB found that the United States violates the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services by discriminating against foreign providers of online gambling services. It found that various federal and state level laws forbade Antiguan firms from offering online gambling services comparable to services offered by domestic firms. The DSB ordered the United States to pay $21 million in annual compensation to Antigua and Barbuda until its laws were brought into compliance with GATS. Furthermore, it permitted cross-sector retaliation by Antigua and Barbuda in the event that the United States did not comply with the DSB’s findings.
The Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition) respectfully submits the following comments regarding the 2016 Special 301 Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets (Docket No. USTR-2016-2013), as requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) … we have noticed a disturbing trend in submissions: using the Special 301 process to attempt to restrict technology innovation. Certain submissions favor an approach to intellectual property and infringement protections that would be harmful to the Internet infrastructure marketplace, and therefore to the Internet itself, as well as the global U.S. and global economies.
Technology has become essential for education. Many countries around the world have started to incorporate technology in the educational environment, thereby changing the educational process in order to give 21st-century learners the new abilities they need. Moreover, for developing countries, the use of technology in education represents an opportunity to solve salient problems of their educational systems. Nonetheless, countries have left aside the fact that copyright law governs how that technology can be effectively used in education.
Letter from 56 Non-profit Organizations and Academic Experts to Secretary Kerry Regarding State Department Pressure Against Access to Medicines Efforts [PDF]
July 20, 2016
Dear Secretary Kerry: We are writing to express our concern about recent statements made by representatives of the State Department on issues regarding intellectual property (IP) and access to medicines in various settings, including proceedings in Colombia, several important United Nations fora, and in India.
[Médecins Sans Frontières, Link] New York/New Delhi, June 2, 2016—As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to address US Congress next week, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is urging India—often called the “pharmacy of the developing world“—to resist pressure from US lawmakers and the pharmaceutical industry and protect access to affordable medicines. Millions of people across the globe who rely on Indian low-cost quality generics are at risk of having their lifelines cut as pharmaceutical lobbying groups and US lawmakers aim to change India’s intellectual property (IP) policies to favor excessive pharmaceutical monopolies.
[House Ways and Means Committee Democrats, Link] A group of 15 House Democrats today sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman urging the Administration to clarify its position on compulsory licensing for generic medicines in Colombia.
The letter was led by Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), and also signed by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Peter Welch (D-VT), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), John Lewis (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), David E. Price (D-NC), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), and Sam Farr (D-CA).
[Joint Letter Signed by 122 Experts – PDF in English and Spanish, with Signatures] Dear President Santos: We are lawyers, academics and other experts specializing in fields including intellectual property, trade and health, writing to affirm that international law and policy support Colombia´s right to issue compulsory licenses on patents in order to promote public interests including access to affordable medicines.
Cross posted from Afro Leo, Link (CC-BY)
Afro-IP regularly reports on how Africa fares in the Special 301 Report issued annually by the USTR (see links to some previous posts below).
The 2016 Report was released at the end of April 2016. The generation of the report through a unilateral US process and its goal have been protested by several countries. For instance, as noted by Mike Palmedo in his post on the 2016 report, both India and Chile have registered their displeasure.