A new Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to remove WTO-plus trade benefits the United States provides to countries that disrespect intellectual property rights. On September 20, 2013, Representative Terry introduced the “Playing Fair on Trade and Innovation Act.” The Bill would deem countries ineligible for the Generalized System of Preferences program (GSP) if that country “fails to provide adequate and effective protection for intellectual property rights” or “maintains local content requirements…” GSP provides “preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 127 countries including emerging economies like Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa.
Over the past year, Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa have all proposed or implemented anti-innovation IP policies and legislation including compulsory licensing, patent revocations and burdensome requirements for patentability. Moreover, many of these policies have the potential to negatively impact U.S. companies and by extension the U.S. economy. The United States should carefully consider whether countries merit extra trade benefits when they fail to provide basic protection for intellectual property rights.