Wednesday, August 5, 2015

TPP Leaks Shows US Stands Firm That Companies Should Be Free To Abuse Patents & Copyrights

The good folks over at KEI have now started releasing a leaked copy of the "intellectual property chapter" as it stood on May 11th (i.e., the latest draft prior to last week's meeting). The IP chapter had leaked in the past, but only an older version. KEI called out how the US's proposals in the TPP are horrible:

"The May 11, 2015, text includes country positions, and reveals extensive disagreements among parties, as well as the isolation of the United States as the country that continues to be the most aggressive supporter of expanded intellectual property rights for drug companies, publishers and other companies.

The proposals contained in the TPP will harm consumers and in some cases block innovation. In countless ways, the Obama Administration has sought to expand and extend drug monopolies and raise drug prices. The astonishing collection of proposals pandering to big drug companies make more difficult the task of ensuring access to drugs for the treatment of cancer and other diseases and conditions.

The widely reported dispute over the number of years of protection for biologic drug test data is only one of dozens of measures that significantly expand the power of big drug companies to charge high prices. Taken together these provisions will take the public down a road of more and more rationing of medicines, and less and less equality of access. It could have and still can be different. Rather than focusing on more intellectual property rights for drug companies, and a death-inducing spiral of higher prices and access barriers, the trade agreement could seek new norms to expand the funding of medical R&D as a public good, an area where the United States has an admirable track record, such as the public funding of research at the NIH and other federal agencies. Many people reading the provisions released today will appreciate how misguided and wrong are the USTR’s values and negotiating objectives."

Looking through the documents, you can see some real ridiculous and aggressive positions by the US on intellectual property. In particular, the US seems to push back against any attempt by other negotiating countries to allow for the punishment of those who abuse patents or copyrights. Every time the issue comes up, many other countries are on board, but the US (and sometimes Japan) is against. The discussion below is about the parts of the IP chapter that KEI released yesterday. Just as I was finishing up this post, it released the other sections as well, but we'll save those for another post.

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