Canada’s IP Policies Need New Look

Canada’s IP Policies Need New Look

06.06.14 | By Jay Taylor

The current intellectual property (IP) environment in Canada has caused increased friction with its closest allies, particularly in the area of IP rights protections for biopharmaceutical products. By revoking 19 patents since 2005 through questionable decisions, Canadian courts have set a disturbing precedent that risks future investments in cutting-edge R&D projects in innovative industries, and the high-paying jobs that accompany them.

While these decisions play out in the Canadian marketplace and additional patent utility cases work themselves through the courts, the United States and European Union (EU) are each working to address biopharmaceutical IP in respective trade negotiations with Canada. As part of the EU-Canada free trade pact (CETA), the EU insisted on the inclusion of more robust protections for biopharmaceutical patents in Canada that are in line with international norms. Similarly, as noted by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in its 2014 Special 301 Report, USTR continues to work with Canada on patent and other IP issues, “including through the [Trans-Pacific Partnership] negotiations.” Canada should respect the spirit of what will hopefully be achieved in both trade negotiations.

Understanding the critical role IP plays in the global economy, the U.S. government and the broader business community have begun to speak out as well. In April, 32 Members of Congress sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Michael Froman urging his office to put Canada on USTR’s Priority Watch List, reserved for countries with significant IP problems that warrant close monitoring and bilateral consultation. More recently, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Tom Donahue sent a letter to the Canadian Prime Minister asking him to review the country’s current IP climate and take action to ensure that Canada remains an innovation leader.

The U.S. and the EU have enjoyed strong economic relationships with Canada in the past and look forward to continued cooperation in the future. PhRMA and its member companies, along with our European counterparts, also have a long history in Canada and recognize the great value and potential of the Canadian market. PhRMA hopes that Canada lives up to its promise as a trading partner that encourages, incentivizes, and prioritizes innovation and research-based industries like ours.

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