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    Canada - South Korea Trade Agreement Demonstrates Deals Possible Without Increasing IP Protections

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    Tuesday March 11, 2014
    Canada and South Korea announced agreement on a comprehensive trade agreement earlier today. The focus is understandably on tariff issues, but the agreement also contains a full chapter on intellectual property (note that the governments have only released summaries of the agreement, not the full text, which is still being drafted). The IP chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals - particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia - the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. The approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections.

    Yesterday I noted that Canada might be asked to increase the term of copyright protection given that South Korea had agreed to longer copyright terms in its recent agreements with the European Union, Australia, and the U.S. In fact, the U.S. agreement contains extensive additional side letters on Internet provider liability, enforcement, and online piracy.  The Canada - South Korea deal rejects that approach with copyright, trademark, patent, and enforcement rules that are all consistent with current Canadian law (plus the coming border measures provisions in Bill C-8). 


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    Proposed U.S. Ambassador to Canada Pledges More Pressure on Intellectual Property

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    Thursday December 12, 2013
    During the years of debate over Canadian copyright reform, I frequently argued that caving to U.S. demands on issues such as digital locks would not relieve the pressure but rather invite more of the same. While Canada has done much of what the U.S. has asked - digital locks, anti-counterfeiting legislation, and patent reforms coming from CETA - the reality is that the list of demands never really ends. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that Bruce Heyman, the nominee to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Canada, has promised to increase pressure on Canada for more intellectual property reform.
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    The U.S. Stands Alone: How the U.S. Is Increasingly Isolated on Intellectual Property Policy

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    Monday December 09, 2013
    Each April, the U.S. Trade Representative releases the Special 301 report which represents its take on the countries with inadequate intellectual property laws.  Inclusion on the report is often framed as an embarrassment as the U.S. seeks to paint those countries as out-of-step with international norms (Canadian officials have rightly dismissed the report as a lobbying document without substantive merit).  The latest leaks of country positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership highlight that the opposite is true. It is increasingly the U.S. that is out-of-step with international norms as it seeks to export laws that are widely rejected by most other countries. From its demands for the criminalization of copyright (even in cases of inadvertent infringement) to the prospect of termination of Internet access over allegations of violations, the U.S. approach finds little support among most of its allies. While Canada opposes the U.S. on virtually all remaining IP issues in the TPP, the U.S. is often isolated on each issue, sometimes entirely alone or occasionally supported by one or two other countries.


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    Leaked TPP Text Confirms Countries Had Plenty to Hide

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    Tuesday November 19, 2013
    The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, a massive proposed trade deal that includes Canada, the United States, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam, Japan, Peru, and Chile, has long been the target of criticism owing to the veil of secrecy associated with the draft text. While negotiations have been ongoing for several years, participating countries have steadfastly refused to release the working text that addresses everything from agriculture to copyright, claiming that trade talks must be conducted behind closed doors.

    Last week, Wikileaks released a leaked version of the intellectual property chapter, which confirmed that the U.S. hopes to use the agreement to export extreme intellectual property provisions that are out-of-step with international norms. Indeed, the 95-page document validates fears that the real reason for the TPP secrecy is that the negotiating countries have plenty to hide.

    My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that while many of the leaked proposals are cause for concern, the good news is that Canada often finds itself opposing some of the most draconian demands with negotiators promoting Canadian law as a suitable alternative.


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