The day after Canada signed the TPP (and a Leger poll found huge opposition to the agreement’s IP and ISDS provisions), the shift toward consultation and study can continue in earnest. Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, used the signing to emphasize once again that signing is not the same as ratifying and that the government is committed to a robust Parliamentary and public review of the agreement.
The Trouble with the TPP series continues today with another example of the lack of balance in the text. An earlier post noted how in the TPP rights holders’ provision are often mandatory, while those for users are treated as optional. The lopsided approach is also evident in the border measures rules. This week I discussed the expansion of border measures provisions without court oversight, which could lead to customs officials being asked to make difficult legal assessments on whether to detain goods entering the country.
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The Trouble with the TPP series continues with IP enforcement and border measures provisions, which are illustrative of Jim Balsillie’s concern about Canada’s failure to set its own IP policy. Yesterday’s post noted that the U.S. demanded that Canada provide a report card every six months on its customs activities, meet on the issue whenever the U.S. demands, and face the possibility of a dispute settlement complaint for failing to comply with these rules. The TPP goes further, however, as it will require Canada to create a system to allow for the detention of goods with “confusingly similar” trademarks.
Article 18.76 of the TPP establishes “special requirements related border measures” which includes allowing for applications to detain suspected confusingly similar trademark goods as well as procedures for rights holders to suspend the release of those goods. The required change is striking since Canada just overhauled its rules for border measures under pressure from the U.S. The Canadian approach did not include “confusingly similar” trademark goods, recognizing that such goods are not counterfeit and that requiring border guards (who rarely have legal training) to make exceptionally difficult judgments about whether imported goods violate the law is bad policy.
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Last year, the federal government trumpeted anti-counterfeiting legislation as a key priority. The bill raced through the legislative process in the winter and following some minor modifications after committee hearings, seemed set to pass through the House of Commons. Yet after committee approval, the bill suddenly stalled with little movement throughout the spring.
Why did a legislative priority with all-party approval seemingly grind to a halt?
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) suggests that the answer appears to stem from the appointment of Bruce Heyman as the new U.S. ambassador to Canada. During his appointment process, Heyman identified intellectual property issues as a top priority and as part of his first major speech as ambassador, singled out perceived shortcomings in the anti-counterfeiting bill.
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I posted yesterday on the updated Internet chapter
in the latest version
of ACTA, which features a major change on secondary liability and the U.S. attempt to clawback on recent domestic DMCA changes by arguing against linking circumvention and copyright infringement. While there remains a number of issues to be determined in that chapter (and a great deal to be addressed in the other IP enforcement chapters on criminal provisions, civil enforcement, and border measures), the rest of ACTA has largely been decided. As in the Internet chapter, where compromise was needed it was the U.S. that did most of it, as it becomes increasingly apparent that the USTR is willing to agree to almost anything in order to bring home an agreement before the next round of elections in November.
The remaining chapters are Enforcement Practices (previously chapter four, but now chapter three), International Co-operation, Institutional Arrangements, and Final Provisions. A closer look at each chapter and the most notable changes:
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Another day, another ACTA leak. There were two yesterday: KEI posted text from the general definition section of the draft to demonstrate the treaty goes well beyond counterfeits, while Le Monde Diplomatique posted details on the border measures chapter.
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