The constant push to expand government granted monopoly privileges for those who benefit most from them never ceases. It seems like every other day or so, we hear about US lobbyists for those industries pushing for greater legal support around the globe. The latest is with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement that the USTR is currently negotiating. The MPAA wrote a letter, which was co-signed by the major pharmaceutical trade group and the US Chamber of Commerce, pushing for the agreement to include rules that go well beyond current US copyright and patent laws
. This, of course, is part of the standard game of leapfrog that the industry plays: get other countries to push stricter laws, then complain that the US is not living up to "international obligations," and get them to bump up their own laws and continue the cycle. In fact, the Obama administration has apparently made it clear that they will not even consider
allowing intellectual property rules to be decreased as a part of this agreement and will only look to ratchet up protections. This is, as KEI points out, even though many of the participants in the negotiations are developing nations, who would be greatly helped with lower intellectual property standards, and previous US administration have been more than happy to agree to such agreements:
After being told the Obama Administration would not consider anything that lowered IPR norms in the TPP negotiations, and only measures that raised norms, KEI reminded USTR has the Clinton and Bush Administration both were willing to lower IPR norms, when they were persuaded it was appropriate. This included:
For the Obama Administration to claim that it can only harmonize upwards is really disappointing, given the promises that Obama made during his presidential campaign.
- President Clinton's December 1, 1999 speech to the WTO endorsing new changes in U.S. trade policy to address concerns over access to medicines.
- President Clinton's Executive Order 13155 of May 10, 2000, concerning Access to HIV/AIDS Pharmaceuticals and Medical Technologies.
- President Bush's decision to agree to the November 14, 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.
- President Bush's decision to accept the waiver to 31.f of the TRIPS agreement on 30 August 2003.
- President Bush's July 16, 2004 agreement between USTR and Canada to modify NAFTA to allow exports of medicines under compulsory licenses.
- President Bush's May 10, 2007 agreement on the bipartisan New Trade Policy, which eliminated patent extensions, eliminated linkage of drug registration and patents, and relaxed test data protection for the Peru Free Trade Agreement.