Monday, May 09, 2005

Geist on US IP bully

Michael Geist is calling for the creation of an "IP Bullied List" to counteract the US's bullying tactics in linking international trade to intellectual property policies.

"After years of calling on Canada to implement the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet treaties, the U.S.’s true interests have been revealed. Implementing the treaties is now not good enough. Rather, the U.S. wants us to implement its version of the treaties, which extend well beyond international requirements.

Even more troubling is the way U.S. pressure against Canada has become part of a much larger global campaign to leverage its economic power by tying trade agreements with greater intellectual property protection. This was not always the case – when Canada negotiated the free trade agreement with the United States in the 1980s, intellectual property issues constituted only a small part of the agreement. Similar U.S. agreements with Israel as well as the subsequent North American Free Trade Agreement also referred to intellectual property but did not make it a focal point.

Today the U.S. is negotiating trade agreements with dozens of countries. The intellectual property provisions within those agreements are sometimes at least 40 pages in length, specifying international intellectual property agreements that must be implemented and including specific provisions to govern domain name disputes, patent protection, and copyright law. The copyright provisions inevitably go beyond even those found in the U.S., since they include requirements for an extension of the term of copyright, new protections for TPMs, and ISP liability requirements. They do not, however, feature any balancing provisions for user interests."

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