by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 27th 2007 10:28am
We've covered the long and detailed saga of Antigua fighting the US via the WTO, but the short summary is this: Antigua claims that the US is violating a free trade agreement in banning online gambling (many online gambling firms are in Antigua). The WTO agreed with Antigua and the US proceeded to ignore the ruling. The WTO again sided with Antigua... and the US pretended the WTO had sided with the US... and again ignored the ruling. This has happened a few more times, with the US eventually unilaterally changing the terms of the free trade agreement -- which didn't satisfy either the WTO or Antigua. Of course, with Antigua being such a small country there has been little in the way of ramifications for the US for ignoring the ruling. That's why Antigua is now pushing for the right to ignore US copyrights and patents as a remedy. However, there may be an even more persuasive remedy. Back over the summer, the EU indicated that it might start siding with Antigua in the dispute -- and it's a lot more difficult for the US to simply ignore the EU. To make the situation even more fun, the latest news is that gambling firms in the EU are pushing for $100 billion in damages from the US. That's certainly an unlikely number, but it's going to get plenty of attention either way. If the EU (and Japan, apparently) really do take Antigua's side in this, the US may finally be forced to acknowledge that it lost. However, it still seems quite unlikely that it will stop the ban on online gambling any time soon.
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