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    Australia Government Report Warns Against Including IP In Trade Agreements

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    Tuesday December 14, 2010
    The Australian Government's Productivity Commission, which is the government's independent research and advisory body on a range of economic, social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of Australians, has released a new report on the impact of bilateral and regional trade agreements.  The report, which contains some key lessons for Canada given our current trade negotiations activities with Europe, India, and South American countries, warns against the inclusion of intellectual property within these trade agreements.  The report concludes:

    The Commission considers that Australia should not generally seek to include IP provisions in further BRTAs, and that any IP provisions that are proposed for a particular agreement should only be included after an economic assessment of the impacts, including on consumers, in Australia and partner countries. To safeguard against the prospect that acceptance of ‘negative sum game’ proposals, the assessment would need to find that implementing the provisions would likely generate overall net benefits for members of the agreement.


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    Intellectual Property Appears to Figure Prominently In Wikileaks Cablegate

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    Monday November 29, 2010
    Intellectual property policy has long been closely linked to U.S. trade policy, so it should come as little surprise to find that it appears to figure prominently in the cables obtained by Wikileaks.  Although only a couple hundreds have been posted thus far, the Guardian has supplied a full list of all 251,287 cables.  The list includes tags for each cable, so that the subject matter can be decoded.  The Guardian has also posted a glossary of the tags, but omits KIPR, which appears to be the intellectual property tag (I base this conclusion on the correlation between the KIPR tag and the WIPO tag, to a specific reference to copyright in one of the cables, and the fact that IPR is a common acronym for intellectual property rights).

    Assuming KIPR is indeed the tag for intellectual property, there are 65 cables originating in Canada (almost all from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa) that address the issue.  Overall, there are a large number of IP-related cables, with approximately 2500 including the KIPR tag.  Moreover, 84 of the cables include the WIPO tag. 

    The cable release could provide new insight into the influence and pressures by the U.S. on Canada and other countries on intellectual property policy.  Several politicians have already described Bill C-32 as a bill designed with the U.S. in mind and as the cables become public, the behind-the-scenes pressures on the issues may come further to light.
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    Commercialization of IP In Canadian Universities: Barely Better Than Break Even

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    Tuesday August 31, 2010
    Last week, Statistics Canada released its latest report on the commercialization of intellectual property in Canadian universities.  Canada spends billions of public dollars on research funding each year and the government has been increasingly focused on how best to commercialize the results.  While there are several possible approaches to doing this, the government and some universities have been focused on building patent and IP portfolios as part of a conventional commercialization strategy.  The alternative could be an open access approach - encourage (or require) much of the intellectual property to be made broadly available under open licences so that multiple organizations could add value and find ways to commercialize.  The universities might generate less income but would better justify the public investment in research by providing the engine for larger economic benefits.

    Which approach is better?  The full commercialization approach has been tried in the U.S. with legislation known as Bayh-Dole and studies (here and here) have found that patents to universities have increased, but the increase has been accompanied by harm to the public domain of science and relatively small gains in income.

    The Canadian Science and Technology Strategy similarly places its faith in commercialization through IP portfolios and licencing, yet the Statscan data suggests that this has also been ineffective. 

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    CETA Update: EU Pressure on IP Increases

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    Tuesday April 27, 2010
    The Department of Foreign Affairs held a briefing call yesterday on the latest round of Canada - European Union Trade Agreement negotiations held last week in Ottawa (talks are actually continuing this week since many European officials were unable to attend due to volcanic ash inspired flight cancellations).  The call was the first I have attended and I think the department should be commended for holding regular briefings that offer a full update on the negotiations.  The CETA approach is in marked contrast to ACTA, where there have been practically no briefings after negotiation rounds.

    The CETA intellectual property chapter was discussed during the briefing, with officials noting that EU pressure on this particular issue was increasing.  The EU is apparently concerned with the lack of movement on the IP chapter, which is largely at a standstill.  The EU has demanded wholesale changes to Canada's IP law framework, but negotiators advised that Canada could not respond without guidance from the government.  Part of that guidance is expected to come in the form of the next copyright bill (with iPadlock Minister James Moore pushing for C-61 style lock provisions, the bill would be consistent with EU demands on anti-circumvention rules). 


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