Antigua Creating Platform To Monetise Suspended US IP Rights From WTO Case

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The government of Antigua and Barbuda is said to be taking steps to set up a platform to allow the tiny Caribbean nation to monetise or otherwise take advantage of the suspension of US intellectual property rights, as it is permitted to do by a World Trade Organization dispute panel. The WTO panel had ruled that Antigua could make up its loss in IP rights for US measures blocking Antiguan online gambling in the US.

A WTO Remedies Implementation Committee in Antigua and Barbuda, made up of experts in IP and trade law, information technology, and economics has held a meeting “geared toward harvesting benefits” of the WTO case, according to a 23 October Antigua release. The committee is chaired by Attorney General Justin Simon, and includes Ambassador Colin Murdoch and chief legal counsel in the WTO matter, Mark Mendel.

“The Committee is said to be recommending the establishment by the Government of Antigua & Barbuda of a statutory body to own, manage and operate the ultimate platform to be created for the monetisation or other exploitation of the suspension of American intellectual property rights authorised earlier this year by the WTO,” the release said. It is understood that the necessary domestic legislation to implement the remedies is in the final stages of preparation for submission to Parliament.”

Additionally, it said, “an announcement regarding the opening of tenders for private sector participation in the operating of the platform should be announced shortly.”

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer expressed support for the committee’s work, the release said.

“In the face of the ongoing failure of the United States to negotiate with Antigua and Barbuda a reasonable settlement of this dispute, the implementation of trade remedies awarded by the WTO is an important international responsibility,” he said. “I am pleased that the Committee continues working with expedience, meeting as scheduled and focusing on its mandate to utilise the WTO remedies in a responsible and proper manner. This will give Antigua & Barbuda a tangible benefit for our years of perseverance on this matter.”

“Be assured that resolving the WTO Gaming case in a fair, reasonable and positive way is a top priority of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda,” the prime minister said.

The platform could be a website offering unprotected US content. The case allows for cross-retaliation in the millions of dollars (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 3 September 2009). Antigua and Barbuda has claimed the damage of the US measures has been in the billions of dollars.

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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