Probir J Mehta (Acting Assistant US Trade Representative for IP and Innovation) refers to IP being a critical part of the trade agenda and America’s future. The trans-pacific partnership is a landmark trade deal representing a next-generation agreement. For example, seeking criminal sanctions against breaches of trade secrets. The transatlantic trade and investment partnership between the European Union was also mentioned and Mr Mehta set out his stall from the perspective of the USA.
Pedro Velasco Martins (Deputy Head of Unit, IP and Public Procurement European Commission) was asked to detail what the EC is doing in the area of trade and IP. He stated that 40% of European GDP results from IPR intensive industries. The number of counterfeit goods seized at the borders has increased while detection has become harder. The trade-related IP strategy includes bilateral agreements which contain chapters on IP protection and enforcement. Recent examples include those with Moldova and Georgia, whereas other agreements go beyond TRIPS (such as Canada). An agreement on protecting geographical indications is currently in negotiation with China. Sanctions remain a possibility as the ‘stick’ to the ‘carrot’ of technical assistance.
Antony Taubman (Director IP Division, WTO) said that the WTO did not necessarily fully understand the role of IP in trade and there is still work to do. The way that TRIPS has emerged was unanticipated 21 years ago when it was drafted and follows the changing nature of trade where it is becoming understood that IP has a role to play in the trade system. We never see trade sanctions for non-compliance with TRIPS, disputes (resolved by panels) are more transatlantic than north v south (although recently there has been a south v north trend). TRIPS has led to far less litigation than anticipated and TRIPS has laid the foundation for IP bilateralism and regionalism while eroding unilateralism. He recommends reading the TRIPS Council minutes for a contemporaneous account of sovereign states’ views on, for example, climate change. TRIPS has triggered an extensive wave of IP legislation internationally.
Michele Woods (Director Copyright Law Division, WIPO) updated the participants about the two new copyright treaties: the Beijing treaty on audiovisual performances, where 6 out of 30 ratifications have been achieved; the Marrakesh Treaty to benefit the blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled has 8 out of 20 of the required signatures. There are no ratifications yet from EU countries, but if there were this could be antipated to accelerate the process.