Russian WTO Accession Will Bring Powerhouse Under TRIPS Immediately
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch on 10/11/2011 @ 5:02 pm
The World Trade Organization today announced that Russia and the WTO working party for its accession have come to agreement. The Russian Federation began negotiating to join the World Trade Organization before the WTO’s landmark agreement on intellectual property rights entered into force. Now, Russia will become party to the agreement upon joining the WTO.
The WTO Ministerial on 15-17 December is expected to give final approval and then it is up to Russia to ratify it, and it becomes an active member 30 days after notifying the WTO. Russia agreed to terms on a full range of WTO issues, and on TRIPS it agreed to implementation without a transition period.
The 1994 WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provides rules for trade related to patents, trademarks, copyright and related rights, and trade secrets. It has been actively used in enforcement, negotiations and disputes, and continues to be the subject of debate.
A WTO information sheet  lists the highlights of Russia’s agreement, including the protection of trade-related intellectual property. Russia began negotiating for accession in 1993. The text is not yet available as all accession-related documents remain restricted until the acceding government joins the WTO.
On IP rights, the governing text is the 1994 WTO TRIPS, which Russia will fully apply, according to the WTO, including provisions for enforcement, without a transition period.
The main IP rights focus identified in the WTO information sheet is copyright-related activity, as Russia has been high on the list for anti-piracy actions by major rights-holding nations.
According to the WTO:
“The Russian government would continue to take actions against the operation of websites (with servers located in the Russian Federation) that promote illegal distribution of content protected by copyright or related rights.” It also will “investigate and prosecute companies that illegally distribute objects of copyright or related rights on the Internet.”
In addition, it has agreed to apply all rules of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works by the time of its accession. Russia already is a member of Berne .
IP rights also arise in relation to transparency, according to the WTO.
It said Russia agreed that “all legislation affecting trade in goods, services and intellectual property rights would be published promptly, consistent with WTO requirements. The Russian Federation would regularly update its official publications including websites and make these laws readily available to WTO Members, individuals and enterprises.”
It also emphasised that Russia will “publish all legislation, affecting trade in goods, services, or intellectual property rights, prior to their adoption and would provide a reasonable period of time, no less than 30 days, for Members to comment, except for emergency cases, national security, monetary policy, measures which publication would impede law enforcement, be contrary to the public interest, or prejudice the commercial interest of particular public or private enterprises. No legislation affecting trade in goods, services or intellectual property rights would become effective prior to publication.”
The United States reflected the positive tone upon agreement. “For the United States, today represents an important milestone in our relationship with the Russian Federation, and advances President Obama’s determination to expand the economic dimensions of a bilateral relationship traditionally dominated by political and security affairs,” Assistant US Trade Representative Christopher Wilson said in a statement to the working party.
Russia will be the 154th member of the WTO.
[Update:] Leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives Judiciary committees sent a letter this week urging the US Trade Representative to hold Russia accountable to its IP rights obligations. A copy of the letter is here  [pdf].
Article printed from Intellectual Property Watch: http://www.ip-watch.org
URL to article: http://www.ip-watch.org/2011/11/10/russian-wto-accession-will-bring-powerhouse-under-trips-immediately/
URLs in this post:
 WTO information sheet: http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news11_e/acc_rus_10nov11_e.htm
 a member of Berne: http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/Remarks.jsp?cnty_id=1017C
 letter is here: http://www.grassley.senate.gov/judiciary/upload/IP-11-10-11-Russia-WTO-IP-joint-letter-Grassley-Smith-Leahy-Conyers.pdf
 Special Report: Russia Amends IP Law In Advance Of WTO Accession: http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/07/12/special-report-russia-amends-ip-law-in-advance-of-wto-accession/