The Canadian government released a technical summary of the Canada – EU trade agreement (CETA) yesterday, which provides further details on the draft agreement (tabling a summary of the treaty is a strange exercise and the government needs to release the full text). Within the summary, there are some further details on the intellectual property issues that were not highlighted in the initial releases.
First, while the emphasis on cheese and the dairy industry has focused on increasing the amount of European cheese that can be sold in Canada, the agreement also contains some notable new restrictions on the sale and marketing of cheese in Canada more generally. Under the umbrella of geographic indications protections, Canada has agreed to new limitations on several well known cheeses including asiago, feta, fontina, gorgonzola, and munster. Existing Canadian producers can continue to use these names, but that’s it – any future cheese makers will need to qualify the title by using words such as “imitation” or “style”. This is a significant concession that effectively gives rights to existing producers on what many consumers would view as generic names.
Second, the government has effectively agreed to pass anti-counterfeiting legislation, which was reintroduced as Bill C-8 (formerly Bill C-56) on Monday. The bill is on the fast-track as it received first and second reading and was immediately referred to committee. The committee will no doubt hear from many witnesses, but the government appears to have already agreed to pass the legislation largely unchanged. According to the detailed technical summary of the Canada – EU trade agreement (CETA), the treaty:
Includes provisions on civil remedies and border enforcement in line with Canada’s existing regime and federal Bill C-56, Combating Counterfeit Products Act
Third, the government may have committed to ratifying several other IP treaties, though it is unclear on the level of commitment. The summary states that:
CETA specifically mentions the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, the Protocol Related to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, and the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs
The summary does not state whether Canada is committed to enacting these treaties, but they were part of a policy laundering process earlier this year when the Standing Committee on Industry recommended their ratification despite the fact that no one actually raised the issue before the committee.
Fourth, the technical summary confirms that CETA will not require any Canadian copyright law changes on key issues, including copyright term and ISP liability. Those same issues may be pressure points on the current Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.
Fifth, the summary provides the details on pharmaceutical patent reforms which were consistent with earlier releases (now with a further government spin). These include rights of appeal reforms and patent term restoration for up to two years.