Canada Says It Won't Attend Special 301 Hearing Because USTR Prefers Industry Allegations To Facts And Data
from the lobbyists-all-the-way-down dept
The US Trade Representative's annual Special 301 Report repeatedly points out how other countries are "failing" US IP industries by not doing enough to prevent piracy. The "name and shame" approach hasn't done much to curb piracy, although it has generated a few pressure points to leverage during trade negotiations.
Countries appear to be tiring of the annual shaming. Michael Geist reports the Canadian government has issued a rebuttal ahead of this year's Special 301 hearing.
I recently obtained documents under the Access to Information Act that confirm the Canadian government’s rejection of the Special 301 process. Canada will not bother appearing today largely because it rejects the entire process.
The two-page memorandum goes directly to the heart of the issue: despite Canada now having some of the world's toughest anti-piracy laws, the USTR continues to make the annual claim that the country could be doing so much more. The memo [PDF] puts it bluntly: the USTR represents no one but industry leaders.
Canada is on the "Watch List" of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) annual Special 301 Report, issued on April 21, This report discusses the adequacy and effectiveness of United States (US) trading partners' protection and enforcement of intellectual property
The Government of Canada does not recognize the validity of the process as the findings tend to rely predominantly on allegations from US. industry stakeholders rather than on objective analysis.
The particular point of complaint is Canada's continued inclusion in the report, despite its many anti-piracy efforts. The press release accompanying it goes even further in expressing its displeasure with the USTR's industry-favoring Special Report.
Canada considers the Special 301 process and the Report to be invalid and analytically flawed because the process relies primarily on US. industry allegations rather than empirical evidence and objective analysis. Canada has a strong regime for the protection and enforcement of lP rights that is fully consistent with its international obligations, including under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization's Trade-Related Aspects of intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.
Canada remains on the Watch List in 2016 despite recent significant achievements domestically in relation to reform namely, the passage and coming into force of the Copyright Modernization Act and the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. in previous years, the absence of such reforms was a central concern of the US. in relation to Canada's regime.
The Canadian Government also passed amendments to the Trademarks Act, the Patent Act and the industrial Design Act to make Canada's intellectual property regime consistent with key treaties (the Madrid Protocol, the Singapore Agreement, the Nice Agreement, the Patent Law Treaty and the Hague Agreement). in 2015, Canada also completed its ratification of the 1991 Act of the international Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants Convention (UPOV 91).
It appears the Canadian government believes the 2017 Special 301 Report (due at the end of April) will continue to ignore Canada's IP protection
capitulations advancements. And if the USTR is going to continue to name and shame without evidence or consultation of all affected stakeholders, there's really no reason for any foreign country to appear in its annual puppet show, much less continue to try to placate an entity that's never going to be satisfied.