Monday, March 20, 2006

Lehman: TRIPS was a mistake

Bruce LehmanI'm attending a great meeting in Brussels on "The Politics and Ideology of Intellectual Property". We just had quite a newsflash from Bruce Lehman, President Clinton's head of intellectual property policy who was largely responsible for the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Lehman now believes TRIPS has been a failure for the United States, because the WTO agreement in which it is included opened US markets to overseas manufactured goods and destroyed the US manufacturing industry. He feels that the US has kept its part of the TRIPS bargain, but that with 90% piracy in China, higher-end developing nations have not. In retrospect, he feels the US should instead have introduced labour and environmental standards into the WTO agreement so that jobs would not be lost in the US manufacturing sector to countries with few environmental standards and weak unions.

How exhilirating that Mr Lehman agrees with civil society IP experts across the developed and developing world!

UPDATE: Mr Lehman also feels that were there to be a penicillin-resistant anthrax outbreak in the US, a compulsory licence would be issued for Cipro like a shot were Bayer unable to meet demand. Shame that the EU has waived its right to use such compulsory licences even in public health emergencies. (Thanks, Manon!)

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