…We write to you as Canadian civil society organizations concerned about access to medicines, in Canada and globally. A number of us are members of the Global Treatment Access Group (GTAG), a working group bringing together various Canadian organizations advocating for greater access to medicines, and other aspects of the human right to the highest attainable standard of health, in developing countries…. We write to you to express our deep concerns with numerous provisions included in the intellectual property, pharmaceutical pricing and investment chapters of the Trans‐Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).
I recently served on an expert panel convened by the Royal Society of Canada to do a report on the future of libraries and archives in the country. That report has now been published – The Future Now: Canada’s Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory. It’s gotten press coverage so far from the Ottawa Citizen and Quill and Quire.
The report explores how libraries and archives can best adopt to changing digital technologies and cultural practices. An excerpt from the executive summary, discussing the outcomes of the expert panel’s consultations, and offering specific recommendations, follows:
[Reposted from michaelgeist.ca, Link (CC-BY)] Last year, the federal government trumpeted anti-counterfeiting legislation as a key priority. The bill raced through the legislative process in the winter and following some minor modifications after committee hearings, seemed set to pass through the House of Commons. Yet after committee approval, the bill suddenly stalled with little movement throughout the spring.
Why did a legislative priority with all-party approval seemingly grind to a halt?
[Post on michaelgeist.ca, Link, (CC-BY)] Canada and South Korea announced agreement on a comprehensive trade agreement earlier today. The focus is understandably on tariff issues, but the agreement also contains a full chapter on intellectual property (note that the governments have only released summaries of the agreement, not the full text, which is still being drafted). The IP chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals – particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia – the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. The approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections.
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:
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.
[Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, Link, CC-BY-SA)]Today the German Pirate party published a leaked version of the intellectual property (IP) rights chapter of the EU – Canada trade agreement (CETA), version as of 17 December 2013.
See Carta blog: Piraten leaken CETA-Dokument zu IPR (German).
At first sight, the chapter does not go beyond EU law. That is not good news, in the sense that there are serious problems with EU IP law, exportation of EU law is not a good idea. EU IP law creates problems regarding access to knowledge and participation in culture, for remix artists, sequential innovation, and for software developers.
Yesterday, the Cato Institute hosted a panel on the Investor-State dispute brought by Eli Lilly against Canada under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The panel featured Mark Schultz from the Southern Illinois University School of Law, Burcu Kilic from Public Citizen, and Christopher Sands from the Hudson Institute. The trade dispute surrounds a Canadian court case in which Eli Lilly’s patent for Strattera was found to be invalid because it did not met the Canadian utility standards. The company alleges that the utility standards applied by the court – which require the patent applicant to demonstrate ‘promised utility’ at the time of filing – amount to an “unlawful expropriation of Claimant’s investments.”
Investor-state dispute resolution is a growing concern for governments like Canada that should want to preserve policy space for regulating business activity. From licenses for fracking, mining, and timber cutting, to health and safety regulations, to labor policy, and to intellectual property rules, countries are finding their regulatory rules and decisions attached by investors whose expectations of future profits are affected by even-handed regulations or by appellate court decisions.
[La Quadrature du Net, Link, (CC-BY)] After more than four years of secret negotiations, the text of the Canada-Europe trade agreement, CETA, reached agreement in principle during a meeting between José Barroso, the President of the European Commission, and Stefen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister. While waiting for evidence to ensure that CETA does not contain measures endangering our freedoms online, citizens and MEPs should be ready to reject this trade agreement.
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.
[Posted to michaelgeist.ca (CC-BY)(Link)] Copyright cases typically only reach the Supreme Court of Canada once every few years, ensuring that each case is carefully parsed and analyzed. As readers of this blog know, on July 12, 2012, the Supreme Court issued rulings on five copyright cases in a single day, an unprecedented tally that shook the very foundations of copyright law in Canada. In fact, with the decisions coming just weeks after the Canadian government passed long-awaited copyright reform legislation, Canadian copyright law experienced a seismic shift that will take years to sort out.
I am delighted to report that this week the University of Ottawa Press published The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law, an effort by many of Canada’s leading copyright scholars to begin the process of examining the long-term implications of the copyright pentalogy.