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So just how upset should the development community be about the leaked intellectual property (IP) chapter from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations? We should be very upset that the Obama administration is pushing an agenda that is more about rent-seeking than innovation. On that score, sadly, President Obama is following in the bipartisan footsteps of Presidents Bush and Clinton, and the other President Bush before that.
But look at all the brackets in the text indicating where there is no agreement! The other parties to the TPP negotiations rejected the US Trade Representative’s proposed text for the IP chapter when it was presented a few years ago and the administration has yet to present its fallback position. What is in the leaked text never had a chance of being accepted without significant changes. For example, US negotiators were not joined by any other party in proposing to extend patents to plants and animals, and eight of the other eleven partners opposed the US proposal to provide five years of data protection for pharmaceutical patents, which could slow marketing approval for generic drugs.
Moreover, the hullabaloo surrounding the text likely means that US trade negotiators will be in an even weaker position now. So thanks to Wikileaks for bringing this discussion to the fore. But the real credit for fending off the worst elements of the US proposal has to go the US trading partners that have been resisting them all along.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.