US Objective For EU-US FTA: Elevate IPR Enforcement

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The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) yesterday notified the US Congress of its intent to negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union. And among the negotiating objectives will be to raise the level of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.

Negotiations for an “ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard” Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are expected to start at least 90 days after the 20 March letter to Congress [pdf].

Among the many objectives listed for negotiation is IPRs. It lists two objectives, which are to:

“Seek to obtain, consistent with U.S. priorities and objectives, appropriate commitments that reflect the shared U.S.-EU objective of high-level IPR protection and enforcement, and to sustain and enhance joint leadership on IPR issues.”

“Seek new opportunities to advance and defend the interests of U.S. creators, innovators, businesses, farmers, and workers with respect to strong protection and effective enforcement of intellectual property rights, including their ability to compete in foreign markets.”

The letter does not appear to include the interests of “users” of the materials subject to IPRs, which has been a concern of groups that view stronger IP rights as potentially harmful to access to knowledge.

The trade agreement objectives also include provisions to open markets for goods and services, e-commerce, investment, and dispute settlement procedures. On sanitary and and phytosanitary (plant) restrictions, the US seeks to “build on” World Trade Organization measures in a way that would limit their use.

The letter was sent by acting US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

A USTR press release is here.

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