Posts Tagged: "World Trade Organization"

The Future of Patents on Genetically Modified Organisms in India

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of India set aside an order of the division bench of the Delhi High Court that revoked a patent granted on genetically modified cotton, holding that the single bench of the High Court should assess the patentability of the invention after hearing arguments from both sides. The Indian Patent Office granted Patent No. 214436 to Monsanto Technology LLP on genetically modified cotton. In 2016, Monsanto filed a suit before the single judge bench of the Delhi High Court [Civil Suit (Comm) No. 132 of 2016] alleging infringement by Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd., which responded with a counterclaim for invalidity of the patent, among other claims. The single judge ruled in favor of the petitioner and granted an injunction. On appeal, the division bench of the Delhi High Court vacated the injunction and invalidated the patent. That decision was set aside by the Supreme Court, which held that the matter at hand was the injunction and that patentability issues must be dealt with separately by the High Court. This suggests a changing mindset by the Indian courts regarding patentability of genetically modified living organisms. India may now be set to join the league of various other nations that respect biotechnological inventions.

Some Progress in the International Effort to Harmonize Trade Secret Protection

In 1994, the United States was winding up the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations leading to the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Tucked in among the toothbrush and rice tariffs was the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property. The TRIPS Agreement was seen as a breakthrough, setting common standards for protecting IP, including provisions on trade secrets that closely aligned with U.S. law. Twenty years later, I visited a friend at the WTO to find out what had actually been happening as a result of TRIPS. I was especially interested in what countries had done since 1994 to bring their national laws into harmony with the trade secret requirements. Because each member of the WTO was supposed to submit reports on its compliance, I asked about them. Yes, we have them, my friend told me. They were in boxes in the next room. But no one had ever read them. Just months before my visit, the European Commission had received an industry report lamenting the legal chaos facing companies that tried to enforce their trade secret rights in Europe. Although every one of the 27 member states of the EU was also a signatory to the TRIPS agreement, virtually none of them was in compliance. In response, the Commission issued a “Directive,” instructing all member states to (finally) harmonize some basic aspects of their trade secret laws.

Innovator Organizations Applaud Delrahim Action on SEPs, Plead for Restoration of Injunctive Relief for Infringement

A number of organizations, including Ericsson, Nokia, Philips, Qualcomm, the Innovation Alliance and the Licensing Executives Society, have sent two separate letters to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross stating their support for the United States’ decision to withdraw the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division’s assent to the 2013 joint DOJ-U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments” (the 2013 Joint Policy Statement). The letter sent by Ericsson, Nokia, Philips, and Qualcomm begins by explaining that those signing the letters collectively spend many billions of dollars annually to “the development of cutting-edge that substantially contribute to the social welfare and quality of life of U.S. consumers,” and “and employ tens of thousands of people in the U.S.” The letter goes on to explain that injunctions are necessary to address the widespread patent infringement that has occurred in recent years; infringement that risks innovators’ ability to continue to innovate and create next generation technologies. Without property protections it is economically irrational to invest the billions of dollars required to create cutting-edge technologies.

Lighthizer’s Double Challenge: Protecting IP by Managing Both China and Trump

While a preliminary trade deal seems to have been struck between China and the United States over tariffs, the two sides have yet to seriously address the toughest and perhaps most economically crucial issues on the table: China clinging to a tech policy based on systematic theft of U.S. intellectual property (IP), forced technology transfer, and cybertheft.President Trump has paid lip service to the need for any deal to include IP protections, and China responded on March 14 by rushing a law that would, according to CNBC, “prohibit the forced transfer of technology from foreign-invested businesses in China, step up protection of intellectual property and claim to give the companies equal footing with domestic players.”  Nevertheless, China watchers are skeptical that these commitments remain cosmetic, while it remains clear that Trump has focused his negotiators chiefly on those things nearest and dearest to his heart: physical goods and tariffs. As talks move forward, the question remains—how will U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer resolve these challenges for the benefit of IP holders?

INTA Brief to WTO Revives Plain Packaging Debate

Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act (TPPA) was enacted in 2011 and prohibits all use of trademarks (other than word marks) on tobacco product packaging. The law seemingly created a domino effect around the world, with countries including Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and the UK having enacted similar laws since, and many other countries presently considering various approaches to restricting tobacco and other products, including alcohol, snack foods and soda. Most recently, Canada enacted the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, which places certain restrictions on tobacco products, and is still considering broader plain packaging regulations. Complaints about the law have been pending with the World Trade Organization (WTO) for some time, and, on January 14, the International Trademark Association (INTA) submitted a brief opining in the latest stage of that case.

The Chinese “Super Trademark”: A Creative Strategy for Overseas IP Protection

Enforcement of trademark rights in China is an ongoing issue faced by numerous corporations.  Invalidating or canceling a trademark registration in the Chinese market is time-consuming and costly.  The best way to defend your company’s valuable intellectual property assets is to put in place as many protections as possible.  If your company owns a creative design mark, consider going beyond the standard trademark registration and getting the “super trademark” by obtaining copyright registration for this artistic design element.

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Holds Hearing on China’s Threat to U.S. Innovation Leadership

On the morning of Thursday, July 19th, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing titled China’s Threat to American Government and Private Sector Research and Innovation Leadership. The day’s hearing was dedicated to discuss strategies, both legal and illicit, which are employed by the Chinese government and designed to gain a competitive advantage over the United States.

Made in China 2025 Initiative at Center of Growing IP Tensions Between United States and China

A high ranking Chinese official has announced that the Chinese government rejected a request from the United States to end its subsidization of industries identified by the Made in China 2025 initiative. These key industry sectors are areas where technological development is very important and as such, they’ve been at the center of allegations over the forced transfer of patented technologies to Chinese domestic firms as well as outright theft of trade secrets. The Chinese government has responded to concerns over the Made in China initiative with one senior economic official defending the program as open to foreign and private companies according to a report by Hong Kong’s English daily The Standard.

China Reorganizes SIPO, Gives It Authority Over Trademark and Geographical Indications

Among the many bureaucratic changes that resulted from the amendments to the Chinese Constitution included the integration of trademark responsibilities with the other intellectual property activities of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). Such responsibilities, including the management of trademark applications, grants and administrative adjudications, were formerly the province of China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), which has been disbanded. The newly reorganized SIPO will also handle applications and grants for geographical indications of product origin.

Letter to President Trump on China IP Probe is Latest Sign of Conservative Support for Private IP Rights

A group of 16 leaders from politically conservative institutions sent a letter addressed to President Donald Trump lauding the Trump Administration’s decision last summer to initiate an investigation into Chinese trade practices regarding intellectual property. The investigation, authorized under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, was aimed at identifying instances where U.S. technologies have been forcibly transferred to Chinese entities as a cost of entering the Chinese domestic market as a foreign entity… The recent letter to President Trump from conservative leaders is the latest indication that right-leaning institutions and think tanks have been more engaged with the debate surrounding the current U.S. intellectual property system.

New Balance wins largest verdict ever for foreign plaintiff in Chinese trademark suit

This latest victory for a foreign plaintiff asserting intellectual property claims is proof of yet another step down the road leading to a reformed, intellectual property friendly China, with China cracking down on infringers — as promised by Chinese President Xi Jinping… The Chinese IP court in Beijing reportedly ordered three domestic shoemakers to pay a total of 10 million yuan ($1.5 million USD) to New Balance for infringing upon the slanted ‘N’ logo utilized by New Balance on its branded shoes. That’s not a huge damages award in the grand scheme of trademark damages ordered around the world but reports indicate that the damages in this cases were the most ever handed out by a Chinese court to a foreign plaintiff for trademark infringement allegations.

Trump Administration opens probe into alleged Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property

President Donald Trump has signed a memo at the White House which authorized the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to make an inquiry into the alleged theft of American intellectual property which is believed to be aided by the Chinese federal government. Although there are concerns that the statement could increase tensions with China just as the U.S. government is seeking more cooperation from China on issues surrounding North Korea, the recent Trump memo comes in response to the $600 billion American intellectual property owners lose each year, a majority of which is due to Chinese tech transfer policies.

Trump Administration to open probe into deceptive intellectual property policy in China

Plans are being made by the Trump administration to open a probe into deceptive Chinese trade practices by invoking Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974… Where joint venture tech transfer rules are concerned, however, the Trump administration may well find out that the Chinese government is enabling practices that do violate international treaties. Foreign entities who want to operate in the Chinese market are typically forced to do so as joint ventures with domestic entities and the transfer of intellectual property assets from the foreign entity to the domestic one is often enforced. That policy runs afoul of the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Big Pharma, Generics and Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

Generic drug manufacturers can pose major financial threats to those companies that invent and develop the copied drugs both domestically and internationally… Before TRIPS, most of the world’s developing countries had very weak patent protections, especially for pharmaceuticals. These weaknesses included — but were not limited to — shorter patent terms ranging from 4 to 7 years, narrowly defined patents which allowed for imitations, and greatly reduced monopoly rights of the patent owner by the permissive use of compulsory licenses. This divergence demonstrates a disconnect between the above mentioned weaknesses and the strong protections of industrial countries with their 20-year patent terms and almost unlimited monopoly rights… For pharmaceutical patent owners, these TRIPS amendments try to harmonize the worldwide rights afforded to them by balancing the interests of the rights holder and those of consumers.

Recent study on lost copyright royalties may reopen WTO case on Section 110 exemptions in U.S.

A recent report from French consulting firm PMP Conseil made waves in the media for indicating that public performance exemptions in U.S. copyright law, such as Section 110 exemptions, cost copyright owners $150 million each year in lost royalties, $44 million of which is attributable to U.S. copyright owners in Europe. On November 11th, this study was presented by the International Council of Creators of Music (CIAM) at it’s annual conference in London. CIAM maintains that the U.S. is one of two “more economically developed countries” that have an exemption in place for playing music in bars, restaurants and retail establishments by radio or television.