Each year the U.S. Chamber of Commerce measures 50 countries using 40 different IP indicators. The output of this comprehensive study is the annual U.S. Chamber International IP Index, published by the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC). At the time the Chamber’s 2018 Index was released in February 2018, the report indicated that IP rights could be updated and modernized with efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“[I]t remains unclear whether the current renegotiation between the U.S., Canada,and Mexico will lead to an agreement that incorporates such changes,” the Chamber report reads. “During the initial stages of negotiations, Canadian resistance to an ambitious IP chapter appeared to be an obstacle to setting a strong regional and international benchmark.”
Seizing the opportunity presented by World IP Day, the U.S. Chamber and counterpart organizations in Mexico and Canada wrote to key government officials in each of the three NAFTA countries to support a strong intellectual property standard if and when any modernized NAFTA agreement is ultimately completed.
“As the United States, Canada, and Mexico continue the rapid pace of negotiations, it is imperative that the updated NAFTA include 21st century protections for creative and innovative industries across North America,” reads a letter sent by a coalition of industry organizations to the three NAFTA trade ministers yesterday.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Intellectual Property Counsel and the Asociacion Mexicana de Industrias de Investigacion Farmaceutica, A.C. wrote on World IP Day to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honorable Chyrstia Freeland, U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, and The Honorable Ildefonso Guajardo Villareal, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy. The letter was for the purpose of expressing “support for a robust and high-standard intellectual property (IP) chapter in any modernized NAFTA agreement.”
The letter explains that the results from the Chamber’s IP Index has shown that as a whole North America is at a considerable disadvantage compared with both Asia and Europe. “NAFTA modernization is an opportunity to elevate the IP frameworks to a level commensurate with the world’s leading economies – if it fails to put Canada and Mexico among the top 10 countries ranked on the Index it will be a missed opportunity,” the letter reads. Currently Canada ranks 18th out of 50 countries for overall IP protections, while Mexico currently ranks 24th out of 50 countries. The U.S. ranks first overall, but 12th in terms of patent system strength.
In addition to generally calling for an agreement in principle on a comprehensive, high-standard for intellectual property protections, the letter specifically calls for the three nations to back IP protections with “robust enforcement mechanisms.”