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US trade officials spin WTO loss to China as major victory

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 30 Jan 2009 11:31 User comments (3)

US trade officials spin WTO loss to China as major victory It's no secret that certain elements in the US Federal Government would like to see all copyright infringement criminalized and the Department of Justice used as an enforcement agency for intellectual property owners. What gets less publicity is the work by the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to similarly effect the law in other countries. Earlier this week the USTR's office issued a press release declaring victory in one such case against China, but behind their celebration is actually a significant defeat.
Although the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed with US claims that China isn't living up to their obligation to protect foreign copyrights under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The portion of the treaty in question requires that all participants at least criminalize willful commercial infringement of intellectual property.

Specifically, a WTO panel concluded that the US hadn't profided any real evidence since it was all in the form of newspaper clippings. According to the WTO report, "the Panel does not ascribe any weight to the evidence in the press articles and finds that, even if it did, the information that these press articles contain is inadequate to demonstrate what is typical or usual in China for the purposes of the relevant treaty obligation."

The report further admonished the US for substituting claims of bad behavior for evidence of specific wrong doing. The report says "A complaining party may not simply submit evidence and expect the panel to divine from it a claim of WTO-inconsistency. Nor may a complaining party simply allege facts without relating them to its legal arguments."

Ironically it was just last year that the USTR was declaring victory against the island nation of Antigua after that country was granted international permission to violate US intellectual property rights to the tune of $21 million. In that case the US argument was that moral considerations nullify a provision of a treaty which requires them to allow internet gambling operations based in Antigua to do business with American consumers.

There's no question that large scale commercial piracy occurs, or that much of it is based in Asia, and particularly China. At the same time it seems important that the US government be particularly careful about trying to make the sort of demands in other countries that would be rejected at home. Particularly when China, a country that like the US is unlikely to bow to international pressure, is involved.

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3 user comments

11.2.2009 11:29

well just a other example of the corrupt crook that run the usa-- try to enforce there crook law on other country so there can make money--- little wonder half the world hate American--- i wonder when American will wake up and smell the coffee-- the USA is so protecting it co but yet what other country to open there country up-- can not have it both way-- that a lessen the usa govt still has not learn-- so must for free trade--- o we can have trade as long as in the USA favor-- when are there going to learn that does not fly with other--- trade war any one

23.2.2009 18:09

Well I am all for trying to stop copyright Freud and all that but i am not for the way in which the US is going about it in the way in which they think they are the worlds morale police. (I know this line has been said many times before)Instead the US can try another angle to try to enforce new legislation and that is through international organizations like The United Nations or NATO. Through these two International bodies more can be done and more influence can be had towards major changes in China and many other countries with Copyright issues.

310.2.2009 15:23

The Antigua gambling case has been going on for years, and still their negotiating settlement stuff. I just read an interview with their attorney and he says they're still hopefull to resolve the issue even with a new president to negotiate with now.

Maybe it's time to stop trying to be nice and start doing the copyright violations they're allowed to do now instead. Once the movie companies and software companies start crying about it, someone will pay more attention.

And I laugh that teh U.S. though newspaper clippings could be "evidence" in their case against China.

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