Ukraine Given a Pass on Special 301 Threats
[Sean Flynn] 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. Click here for more.
Ireland, Plain Packaging, and the Olive Revolution
[Matthew Rimmer] …In its efforts to thwart the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products in Ireland, Big Tobacco and its allies like the Law Society of Ireland have marshalled a number of arguments, similar to those which have been decisively rejected in Australia. It is disappointing that the Law Society of Ireland has been promulgating a number of myths promoted by Big Tobacco. It should know better than to uncritically adopt the rhetoric and the talking points of the tobacco industry. Click here for more.
See also: Sean Flynn. Industry Trade Advisory Committees and the Federal Advisory Committee Act. (Link)
New Treatments for Hepatitis C Virus: Strategies for Achieving Universal Access
[Françoise Barré-Sinoussi] 185 million people across the world are infected with HCV; 150 million are chronically infected. The HCV pandemic is concentrated in middle-income countries (MICs); while 15% of the 150 million people with chronic HCV live in high-income countries (HICs), 72% live in MICs and 13% in low-income countries (LICs). It is estimated that HCV-related liver complications kill 350,000 people annually. Currently, the standard of care is injectable peg-interferon (PEG-IFN) used in combination with ribavirin (RBV). The cure rate is 50-75%, and the treatment is associated with strong side effects. Worldwide, only a tiny percentage of people with HCV have access to treatment. Click here for more.
- I-Mak. The Grounds for Opposing Patent Applications on Sofosbuvir. (Link)
- Indian Health Ministry urged to begin providing Hep C treatment now, oppose patent on new Hepatits C drug and demand affordable access. (Link)
Putting the Public’s Interest Back Into the “Public Interest”
[David Levine] What’s your definition of the “public interest” when it comes to law and lawmaking? Is it a unitary concept, where we consider the good of society as a whole? If so, you might think that the public’s interest is in a “public interest” which encompasses “cross-cutting issues” that transcend narrow considerations and allows debate about and among competing interests. On the other hand, do you view the “public interest” more narrowly? If so, you might view the public’s interest as served by placing “public interest” in a box separate from other interests, like environmental, labor or intellectual property policy. From that perspective, the “public interest” is just another consideration in the panoply of considerations that make up society. Click here for more.
Wikimedia-RU Changes Russian Civil Code: Amendments Include Recognition of Creative Commons Licenses
[Linar Khalitov] On March 12, 2014, the Federal Law that introduced changes to the prime source of Russian civil law, the Civil Code, was signed. This sign-off brought to life many amendments that Russian members of Wikipedia have been eager to see for a long time. The main changes relevant to Wikimedia projects are: introduction of free licenses; … freedom of panorama;… now an author can revoke publication of own materials only before such publication actually occurred; libraries now have right to create electronic copies of certain types of works. Click here for more.
Letter to USTR from 16 Members of Congress on Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines in the Trans Pacific Partnership
[16 Members of Congress] We write to express our deep concern with reports about proposed provisions regarding intellectual property, investment and pharmaceuticals reimbursement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations (TPP). We believe those provisions if included in the final agreement, would severely threaten access to affordable medicines in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in developing countries, and could have potentially serious consequences for patients in developed countries, including the United States. Click here for more.
Letter to USTR from 29 Technology Firms to Senator Ron Wyden on Digital Copyright Enforcement Provisions in the TPP
[29 Technology Companies] As technology companies with business models inextricably linked to the Internet, we admire your work as a staunch defender of users and online rights—most prominently when you led the fight against SOPA and PIPA in Congress. Today we write about another emerging front in the battle to defend the free Internet — massive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These highly secretive, supranational agreements are reported to include provisions that vastly expand on any reasonable definition of “trade,” including provisions that impact patents, copyright, and privacy in ways that constrain legitimate online activity and innovation. We applaud your prior efforts as Senator to bring transparency and public participation to trade negotiations. We strongly urge you to uphold and expand this dedication into your new role. Click here for more.
Broadcast Treaty: An Overview
[Nehaa Chaudhari] Negotiations on the Treaty for the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations (“Broadcast Treaty”) … were initiated for the purpose of protecting such organizations from signal piracy. For a broadcasting organization, their signal is the prime source of revenue. Therefore, state intervention at the international level was required to quell the transnational issue of signal piracy. Moves by a majority of nations indicated that the mood was in favour of drafting a treaty that would codify certain protections for broadcasting organizations in the form of rights. The obvious concerns that arose were the nature and scope of those rights. Overbroad rights often posed significant obstacles to the free flow of information. A number of developing nations were concerned that the latest move was a further entrenchment of the colonization of information and knowledge. Click here for the full blog on cis-india.org
Berne’s Vanishing Ban on Formalities
[Christopher Sprigman] Abstract: Not too long ago, conventional wisdom in the copyright field condemned copyright formalities as unnecessary and pernicious, and celebrated their removal from American law. Recently, however, an increasingly prominent strand of copyright scholarship has begun to rue the death of mandatory formalities and to note the many possible benefits of reinstituting them. But now that the prospect of “reformalization” has been raised, the opponents of formalities have laid on the table what seems (at least to them) to be a trump card. Whatever the virtues of formalities, opponents claim that they are banned by article 5(2) of the Berne Convention, which prohibits formalities that affect “the enjoyment and the exercise” of rights in protected works. Furthermore, opponents invoke derivative protection through the TRIPS Agreement, which adopts the Berne standards and makes them enforceable via the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) dispute resolution process. Click here for more.