US Trade Rep Promises Transparency… But Actions Speak Louder Than Websites

from the I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it dept

The US Trade Representative has finally finished the long overdue task of relaunching its website. Among such spiffy new features as a blog and an interactive map, the USTR has promised to fulfill Obama’s pledge "to advance the social accountability and political transparency of trade policy." And while these are nice and all, the promise rings somewhat hollow.

Even though Obama’s nominee, Ron Kirk, had just begun his term as the new US Trade Representative, the 2009 Special 301 that was released in April continued the ridiculous fallacies of years past. Even worse, for an organization pledging transparency, the process of researching and writing the Special 301 reports is notoriously secretive, blocking out NGOs, consumer groups and citizens. Instead, IP maximalist industry groups collaborate with USTR bureaucrats to write draconian US government reports that serve to alienate nations and harm innovation around the world. If Ambassodor Kirk and Obama want a USTR that does advance social accountability and political transparency, it would do well to be open in substance, not style. Perhaps a good place to let them know would be their new "Ask the Ambassador" feature.

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Comments on “US Trade Rep Promises Transparency… But Actions Speak Louder Than Websites”

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13 Comments
bikey (profile) says:

trade agreements

Rereading the article linked in this, it is sad indeed that here as in so many other areas, Obama has done the opposite of what we had hoped. Staffing the “Justice Department” with RIAA front men and continuing to back the secretive ACTA are just the most obvious examples. What one lawmaker (Dan Durbin, I think) said of the banking industry, (“These guys own the place”) is equally applicable to IP types. As the economy continues to tank, the IP lifeline to (pseudo) hegemony, creative costs be damned, can only thicken.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Instead, IP maximalist industry groups collaborate with USTR bureaucrats to write draconian US government reports that serve to alienate nations and harm innovation around the world”

Theft of American ingenuity is much like a tax being levied on American by other countries. We most certainly should be taking “draconian” measures to stop domestic and foreign patent pirates from misappropriating American ingenuity.

I do agree that the process of our kicking the crap out of IP thieves should be open.

Ronald J. Riley,

Speaking only on my own behalf.
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC

bikey (profile) says:

Re: Mr. Riley

Yes, ‘kick the crap’ out of the all thieves (bankers included?). That’s a brilliant strategy. Works everywhere. And when US biopirates steal from other countries (basmati, neem, pig genes, etc.), I assume Mr. Riley is all for ‘kicking the crap out’ of them too, right? Now that kicking the crap out of everyone is legal (Mr. Obama has also decided not to prosecute kickers, among others), why don’t we just kick the crap out of everyone we meet, just in case.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Mr. Riley

Perhaps most disturbing is opposition to patenting improvements to life forms or processes for extracting or synthesizing beneficial active ingredients.

Rather than opposing advancements and the intellectual property rights which drive those advancements people should be championing them.

Claims that these inventions are biopiracy by those who are unwilling or unable to discover improvements are little more than an attempt to rationalize patent piracy and all they accomplish is denying humanity the benefits of such advancements.

Traditional remedies are by their nature prior art. Claims of biopiracy are thinly veiled attempts to attach a property right to prior art which have no rights at the expense of those who are creating improvements in the art.

Patents for such improvements in no way restrict the use of old knowledge. It is likely that the improvements will make use of traditional knowledge less desirable.

Ronald J. Riley,

Speaking only on my own behalf.
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 – (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

JustMe (profile) says:

Ron

First, I’m unsure why you bring up domestic IP thieves. There is already a process to deal with this issue, and it doesn’t involved anyone outside of the US.

Second, while I understand the concept I think you are trying to convey, it isn’t really a “tax.” It is more likely to be lost potential revenue, but even that is debatable – especially given the very large numbers of patent hoarders in the US. So I would appreciate your thoughts on someone who buys up a patent with no intention of using it (in the way it was intended to be used). Under your analogy they would also be guilty of imposing a tax on America.

Third, forgive my ignorance, but aren’t patents only valid in the country in which they were issued? I do realize they can be licensed by someone in another country, but the first two letters of the USPTO are sort of a giveaway here, right?

It seems like the USTR (and you) are advocating that we use international agreements to extend of reach of national patent offices in to other countries? This seems fraught with danger and smacks of the Big Stick mentality of Roosevelt. There are also strong arguments to be made that the developed countries use patents (and similar instruments) to limit growth and access to goods and services in the developing world. Assume a patent on water desalination. I agree the fictional US owner of the patent deserves to be compensated for the development of the technology. However, what if the price is 1 million dollars per unit while fine people in Bangladesh are dieing every day. And yeah, I know this example is meant to play on the heartstrings but it is still true. How about when patents are used to stifle small businesses and drive them out of the market? Ref: Monsanto suing the farmers who don’t choose to buy they seeds because (surprise) wind and bugs happen to move pollen to the next field.

How would you resolve disputes concerning independent concurrent development or incremental development? A good example of this is the ‘inventor’ of radio, pick one: Guglielmo Marconi, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Popov, Sir Oliver Lodge, Reginald Fessenden, Heinrich Hertz, Amos Dolbear, Mahlon Loomis, Nathan Stubblefield and James Clerk Maxwell. What happens when the winner isn’t from America? There is also the matter of retroactive and ongoing damages. Where do you draw the line? Assume that Marconi was the inventor of radio. Should everyone from RKO to Clearchannel to ‘mad dog wolfman on hot 99.5 FM’ be liable for infringing on Marconi’s patent?

I don’t know. These are serious questions that need to be discussed. However, I don’t think that banging the drums of nationalism or secret agreements is really the best solution.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Couple Comments

@K Donovan
Thank you very much for providing a direct link to where we can complain to these idiots that actions really do speak louder than words. It is greatly appreciated.

@R Riley
You really do look like a major tool for constantly saynig you only speak on your own behalf, but listing all of your little worthless organizations right there and your ranks in them.
At least it provides a small piece of the list of organizations who are against the advanvement of the human race.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Couple Comments

“At least it provides a small piece of the list of organizations who are against the advanvement of the human race.”

Who do you think produces those advancements? How are the advancements paid for?

When other countries get away with taking the advancements without paying who is paying the cost?

Patent piracy is costing Americans jobs and prosperity. This is a tax being levied on all Americans by other countries.

Transnational corporations steal American ingenuity and ship production to low wage counties. In the process they line their pockets at the expense of all Americans.

Both foreign thieves and corporate thieves are undermining the American dream.

Ronald J. Riley,

Speaking only on my own behalf.
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 – (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Inventors are the source of progress.

“@R Riley
You really do look like a major tool for constantly saynig you only speak on your own behalf, but listing all of your little worthless organizations right there and your ranks in them.
At least it provides a small piece of the list of organizations who are against the advanvement of the human race.”

We are inventors. It is through a lifetime of hard work that we produce the advancements which improve everyone’s lives.

Everyone has to earn a living and it is a fact that we cannot continue to produce the inventions which humanity needs if we are not fairly compensated.

TechDIRT seems to be loaded with people who who rationalize that they should be able to steal the investment which inventors have made to advance progress. The problem with this is that progress will slow to a standstill.

Ronald J. Riley,

Speaking only on my own behalf.
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 – (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

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