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article imageOp-Ed: Leaked draft of TPP agreement provisions on intellectual property

By Ken Hanly     Nov 16, 2013 in Business
The draft sections of the Trans=Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement dealing with intellectual property rights has been leaked by Wikileaks. They show that the deal protects the rights of corporations while curtailing the rights of the public.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been under negotiation since 2010 and would expand the earlier agreement to many new countries: " The TPP is a proposed free trade agreement under negotiation by (as of August 2013) Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan,[9] Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.[10] " A number of other countries have shown an interest in joining.
Critics of the TPP claim that the agreement goes far beyond tariff reduction and trade promotion. The agreement gives more powers to corporations and could very well infringe upon consumer, labor, and environmental interests. Some describe the agreement as a wish list of the one per cent: "of the 26 chapters under negotiation, only a few have to do directly with trade. The other chapters enshrine new rights and privileges for major corporations while weakening the power of nation states to oppose them." This is pointed out in the discussion on the appended video.
A group called "Stop the Trap" have published a petition against the TPP. Among the claims the group makes are that the suggested provisions would:
Criminalize some of your everyday use of the Internet,
Force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without privacy safeguards, and
Give media conglomerates more power to fine you for Internet use, remove online content—including entire websites—and even terminate your access to the Internet.
Create a parallel legal system of international tribunals that will undermine national sovereignty and allow conglomerates to sue countries for laws that infringe on their profits.
In May of 2012 a group of 30 legal scholars complained about the biased and closed TPP negotiation process. They noted that negotiators excluded many stakeholders such as consumers, libraries, students, health advocacy or patient groups, all of whom are users of intellectual property. There was also only minimal representation from generic drug manufacturers or Internet service providers.
Wikileaks has just published a draft from August of this year of the chapter of the TPP on intellectual property rights. As one article suggests, the text confirms that the agreement could cause serious harm to user's rights and a free and open Internet: " ...the TPP text we’ve seen today reflects a terrible but unsurprising truth: an agreement negotiated in near-total secrecy, including corporations but excluding the public, comes out as an anti-user wish list of industry-friendly policies. "
In spite of the fact that the public has not been allowed to see the text of this agreement, Obama's negotiators want more latitude to negotiate and "fast track authority" to bypass Congressional review. The entire nearly 100 pages of text can be accessed on line at this site.. The text is not final there are bracketed suggestions from different countries included as part of the text.
Among the changes suggested are new minimum times for copyright duration. Details and criticism can be found here. Critics also claim that the agreement would circumscribe fair use rights.
Canada appears to be among those fighting against US attempts to adopt draconian copyright enforcement measures As discussed on the appended video the US is pressing very hard not just for punishment measures but also for expanding the reach of patent law: The leaked draft reveals that the US is pushing hard for provisions expanding the reach of patent law and limiting ways in which a patent may be revoked. These proposals are meeting widespread opposition from the other participants. For example, the U.S. proposes—and nearly every other nation opposes—that patents be made available for inventions that are “plants and animals.”
The US also wants to prohibit denying a patent solely on the grounds “ that the product did not result in enhanced efficacy of the known product.” Those who want access to generic medicines claim that this language would promote "evergreening" in which companies often extend patents by making minor changes to an already patented medicine or other patented item. One article sums up the situation as revealed by the new leaks of the chapter on intellectual property: The latest TPP leak confirms our longstanding fears about these negotiations. The USTR ( US Trade Representative) is pushing for regulations that would, for the most part, put the desires of major content and patent owners over the needs of the public. No wonder the negotiators want to keep the process secret.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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