Negotiations began in 2007 for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement amongst countries, more or less, bordering on the Pacific Ocean. Canada, after having been an observer at first, formally joined the TPP on October 8, 2012. The TPP market (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, and Vietnam) is collectively larger than the EU, includes are largest trading partners (the US and Mexico), and includes some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
In addition to eliminating tariff barriers the TPP touches upon a number of legal issues, as well, in the hopes of harmonizing legislative and regulatory regimes as much as possible in order to promote trade, and open up markets. One of these issues revolves around the protection of intellectual property rights (IP).
Specifically, TPP countries have agreed to build upon the World Trade Organization’s agreements with respect to patents, trademarks, copyrights, geographical indicators, trade secret data and the approval of regulated products all the while respecting the Doha Declaration re public health.
Given the recent release by the US Chamber of Commerce of its first annual International IP Index Canada has some improvements to make in its IP protection, specifically as it relates to pharmaceutical patent term extensions and data exclusivity, copyrights on the Web, online piracy, and effective border controls. Unlike many countries, Canada has no right of appeal with respect to pharmaceutical patents. Canada’s case law re patent utility is also out of step with many nations.
Free trade creates high-value jobs, economic growth, and increased government revenues for much needed and valued social programmes. Both exports of goods and services from Canada and investments in Canada will grow under TPP. The TPP does nothing to threaten our freedoms and rights as a sovereign nation or any of our cherished national icons such as universal healthcare.
If Canada is to be an innovative, knowledge-based society in the 21st century than it needs to open its doors to TPP countries and harmonize our legal and regulatory frameworks with those of our future trade partners, especially in the realm of IP which drives that same innovation and knowledge.
Dr. D. Wayne Taylor, F.CIM is the Executive Director of the Cameron Institute. Follow the Cameron Institute on twitter atwww.twitter.com/@CameronInst