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    Another Step Toward the TPP: Canada Moves to Ratify Five Intellectual Property Treaties

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    Wednesday January 29, 2014
    The Canadian government quietly tabled five intellectual property treaties in the House of Commons on Monday:

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, five treaties, entitled, one, Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, adopted at Madrid on June 27, 1989, as amended on October 3, 2006, and on November 12, 2007; two, the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, adopted at Singapore on March 27, 2006; three, the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classifications of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks, adopted in Nice on June 15, 1957, as revised at Stockholm on July 14, 1967, and at Geneva on May 13, 1977, and amended on September 20, 1979; four, the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs adopted at Geneva on July 2, 1999; and, five, Patent Law Treaty, done at Geneva on June 1, 2000.

    I wrote about the move toward ratifying these treaties last year. The Industry Committee recommended their ratification despite the fact that no witnesses raised the issue during lengthy committee hearings. So why the recommendation? I suggested then that the decision is primarily designed to place Canada in position to ratify the Canada - EU Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership. While neither of those trade agreements are public, leaks suggest that both include provisions requiring signatories to adopt those IP treaties. The five IP treaties, which focus largely on administrative issues, will now enter the treaty ratification process, which includes a 21-sitting day period where MPs can initiate debate.
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    The Trans Pacific Partnership and the Fight Over a Cultural Exception

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    Tuesday December 10, 2013
    This week's leak of country-by-country positions on a Trans Pacific Partnership included a notable reference to the inclusion of a cultural exception. Canada stands with a slight majority in seeking a cultural exception that would presumably exclude the cultural industries (broadcast, audio-visual, music, books, etc.) from the ambit of key TPP provisions such as foreign investment restrictions or other legislated forms of cultural protections.  Other supporters of a cultural exception include Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Opponents include the U.S., Peru, Mexico, Singapore, and Japan.

    The emergence of the cultural exception issue is interesting because U.S. lobby groups were specifically concerned with the prospect that Canada would pursue an exception if admitted into the TPP negotiations.  For example, the IIPA (which represents the major music, movie, and software lobby groups) stated the following in January 2012 with respect to the possible admission of Canada into the TPP:


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    The TPP and Privacy: What Are the Implications of the E-commerce Chapter?

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    Tuesday December 10, 2013
    While much of the attention on the Trans Pacific Partnership has focused on the intellectual property chapter, the e-commerce chapter raises potentially significant privacy implications. The details of the e-commerce chapter remain unknown - the chapter has not been leaked as the latest Singapore meeting wrapped up without a deal - but the leaked country-by-country position paper suggests that the participants are fairly close to consensus on at least two privacy related provisions.


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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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