Even as the US tries to ratchet up
patents, copyrights and trademarks in international trade agreements, talking about how it's essential to protect the US's interests, it's amazing how the US ignores those same agreements at home. For years, we've talked about the still ongoing situation with Antigua
, where the US was clearly found in violation of trade agreements, but has refused to do anything about it (other than unilatterally changing
the free trade agreement in question in its own favor).
But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Other countries are complaining that the US has lost at a variety of hearings in front of the WTO (handling disputes over those trade agreements) and then proceeded to ignore those rulings entirely
“The conduct of the United States unscrupulously discredits the WTO dispute settlement system and also constitutes an affront to the intellectual property rights,” an ambassador from Cuba said today at the WTO.
At a WTO Dispute Settlement Body meeting today, a number of WTO members fired shots at the US delegation for its continued failure to change its laws to comply with WTO rulings that found it out of compliance on intellectual property-related issues.
The article lists out a bunch of countries all complaining that, while the US keeps pressuring them to adopt strict IP laws, the US routinely ignores the same clauses in the various free trade agreements it signs.
“It is very ironic to observe the United States projecting laws on intellectual property, despite keeping violations as egregious as Section 211,” under which the Bacardi Company continues to market rum labelled Havana Club, a mark which is otherwise owned by Cuba and partners. “This is one of the most famous cases of trademark counterfeiting and conducting misleading advertising by a company backed by the US legislation.”
And while a number of the countries complaining obviously have other issues with the US (Cuba, Venezuela), it's not just those countries. The EU also has complained that the US has been ignoring various agreements.
Even the 27-member European Union weighed in on the Section 211 case, thanking the US for its report and adding the hope that “US authorities will very soon take steps towards implementing the DSB ruling and resolve this matter.” The EU also urged that the US comply with another IP case – Section 110(5) of the US Copyright Act – which involved the US commercial practice of playing music recordings, such as Irish music, aloud in bars without paying royalties. “We refer to our previous statements that we would like to resolve this case as soon as possible,” the EU said.
Of course, the proper response to all of this isn't just putting more pressure on the US to change its laws to comply, but a more basic solution: stop agreeing to "intellectual property" issues in trade agreements
. The US has now made it abundantly clear that it will pressure countries into rules that go against its own best interests and then will ignore any rules that go against its own interests. So the most basic response is that the US is clearly not trustworthy
on "intellectual property" in trade agreements, and other countries should refuse to include such provisions in any agreement with the US. Don't reward hypocrisy and bullying by allowing the US to do more of the same.