WIPO Treaty concluded for visually impaired to access published works

[K.M. Gopakumar] Major breakthrough negotiations on an International Treaty for Visually Impaired Persons/Persons with Print Disability concluded late night on 25 June. The Treaty creates a legal obligation on the part of the Contracting Party to provide an exception or limitation in its national copyrights law on the right of reproduction, the right of distribution, and the right of making available to the public, to facilitate availability of the works in accessible format copies. The Treaty covers persons with blindness, visual impairment, reading disability or any other physical disability which prevents them from holding or manipulating a book or to focus or move their eyes in the normal speed. Click here for more.

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Congressional Hearing on India’s Industrial Policy Centers on Pharmaceutical Patents

[Mike Palmedo] Last week the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade of the U.S. 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. Click here for more.

Also: Peter Maybarduk: Washington’s Anti-India Push and Public Citizen’s Response

WIPO Treaty for the Blind Shows that Transparency Can Work (and is Necessary)

[Sean Flynn] Last week it was announced that negotiators had reached “miracle” conclusion for a new international treaty for the visually impaired. This agreement was reached under conditions of unprecedented (although not always perfect) transparency and public participation. And according to initial stakeholder opinions voiced from across the spectrum – the end outcome is nearly universally considered to be “balanced” – a key objective of modern intellectual property policy. The process and substantive outcome lies in sharp contrast to the conditions of intense secrecy that surrounded the last multilateral agreement on IP to be concluded – the much maligned ACTA, as well as the most important one currently ongoing – the Trans Pacific Partnership… And thus it is an appropriate time to question what international IP negotiators in the TPP and elsewhere should learn from the success of WIPO and the failure of ACTA.  Click here for more.

NGOs Condemn the EU Press Release on TRIPS Extension for Least Developed Countries

[Joint Statement by 26 NGOs] On 11th June 2013, the WTO TRIPS Council took a decision to extend for a further 8 years, the flexibility of least developed country (LDC) Members under Article 66.1 to not apply the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement except for Articles 3, 4 and 5 (which concern national treatment and most-favored nation treatment). This decision was taken in response to the “duly motivated request” submitted by Haiti on behalf of the LDC Group last November, seeking an unconditional extension for as long as a WTO Member remains a LDC. This decision was a compromise deal as the EU and US exerted intense pressure on the LDCs to accept conditionalities that are not in favour of the people in the LDCs. The European Union in its press release on 11 June 2013, welcomes the TRIPS Council Decision, but it also makes several inaccurate and misleading statements. Click here for more.

UN Economic And Social Council To Address IP’s Role In Innovation, Technology

[Kelly Burke] The annual four-week session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a key coordinating body responsible for 70 per cent of spending across the UN system, opens next week with high-level political figures addressing intellectual property rights and innovation. On 1 July, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon along with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry will speak on the latest Global Innovation Index, which will be issued earlier that morning by WIPO. Several discussions and panels planned for the first week will examine intellectual property’s role in development goals, innovation, and technology. Click here for the full story in IP-Watch.

Malaysia Publishes Trans Pacific Partnership Brief Highlighting IPR “Challenges”

[Mike Palmedo] The Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry has published a brief outlining how it views the current state of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.  It believes that 14 of the 29 chapters of the agreement, It considers the negotiation of 14 of the 29 chapters to be “substantially closed.”  On the other hand, it says that negotiations in the areas of intellectual property, state owned enterprises, labor, and environment are “difficult. For these sensitive issues, options that have been put forth have been “watered-down commitments; longer transition periods for implementation; limiting commitments through the Non-Conforming Lists; and absolute carve-outs.”  The brief signals that Malaysia would be willing to consider other options to move forward as well. Click here for more.