The latest news for Intellectual Property (IP) law this week concerns the adoption of the new Fundamental Public Interest Principles for International Intellectual Property Negotiations. The Principles were endorsed by researchers, students, and policy specialists from all over the world at the Third Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest, which took place in Cape Town, South Africa. 

The Principles outline several basic issues that interest of the public. They warn negotiators to be mindful of the provisions of all intellectual property instruments and to define limitations and exceptions to rights that require regulation.

They go on to explain that lawmaking “should occur only through procedures that are public, inclusive, transparent and accountable so that law can best reflect the values and consent of the governed.” According to a recent InfoJustice report, the Principles also call for the rejection of any international law on intellectual property that is made through a process not including “ongoing releases of proposed legal provisions for public comment.”

The new declaration specifically calls for provisions “permitting all countries to fully avail themselves of all TRIPS Agreement provisions, which provide flexibility to define the scope of and limitations to intellectual property and data protections. ” This in turn promotes access to medicines and flexibility in digital rights and enforcement provisions to adapt to “technological, social, economic, and cultural change.”

The principles are strongly critical of the process of the negotiation of intellectual property provisions in the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). They also call for international law to maintain flexibility in intellectual property regulation, particularly on digital rights and access to medical issues. Some of the proposals were leaked versions of the TPP endorsed by Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Malaysia and Brunei.

At this point, neither the TPP nor TTIP have planned any ability for the public to see or comment on the proposed laws before their drafting is completed. The Principles demand the rejection of ratification of all three of these agreements for their incomplete process.


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