Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said Thursday he doesn’t have the votes to bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership up for a vote. But just a day earlier, at an event marking the release of the fourth edition of its International Intellectual Property (IP) Index, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce made the case for TPP and its IP protections.
Thomas J. Donahue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the growing international consensus around intellectual property protections, which includes patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
“Economies can signal their commitment to protecting IP by participating in international treaties and trade agreements with high standards, the latest and best example being the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Donahue said. “The United States and other countries recognized early in the negotiations the importance of a high standard IP chapter.”
The Chamber’s Index, released by its Global Intellectual Property Center, found a strong correlation between IP protections and positive economic indicators. By protecting intellectual property rights, the report concludes, countries can improve their economic growth.
Meir Pugatch is the researcher whose company, the Pugatch Consilium, put together the report. Pugatch expects to see the TPP have a meaningful impact on the countries who are part of the agreement.
“No doubt the TPP is becoming, or will become, the most important [IP] standard of the 21st century,” he said, adding that there are still significant gaps between the countries who signed TPP. He expects that gaps in IP protections will close if countries follow the TPP framework.
Corporate representatives present at the event, which was held at the Chamber’s headquarters in Washington, DC, emphasized the importance of the TPP’s IP protections for their industries.
Lauel Vogelsang of Merck talked about the need for countries to update IP laws to better protect new forms of pharmaceuticals. TPP falls short in that area, specifically regulatory data protection.
Biological drugs have just five years of data protection under TPP, compared to the U.S. standard of 12. Still, the TPP is a big step in the right direction for the pharmaceutical industry because it is the first trade agreement to address protections for biological drugs.
Anissa Brennan of the Motion Picture Association of America explained that it is “of the utmost importance” that countries come together for agreements like the TPP.
“If we try to work bilaterally with governments to raise copyright enforcement standards, those efforts take a long time,” Brennan said. “When you have something like the TPP, in one fell swoop you are looking at those handful of countries.”
The Chamber’s International IP Index found that the United States remains the top nation for IP protection, but one area of concern is enforcement: in that category, the U.S. ranks fifth.
“We’ve got the right rules, but we’ve got to do more about enforcement,” Donohue said. “What good are protections if they have no teeth?”