Breaking Patents Is Not the Way to Go, Says US to Brazil

U.S.-based Defenders of Property Rights (DPR) praised comments by Deputy United States Trade Representative Peter Allgeier’s before the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Trade yesterday. 

Allgeier, the chief negotiator responsible for U.S. trade negotiations with Europe and the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada, and the negotiation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) has sent a strong warning to Brazil’s government in his comments that theft of American patents will not be tolerated.


“Negotiations with Brazil are best done in a cooperative mode with the pharmaceutical companies, and not doing it in a way that is very confrontational and that is threatening to break patents as a negotiating ploy to reduce prices,” said Allgeier in response to questioning on Brazil by Illinois’s Republican Congressman Jerry Weller. 


Priority should be given to the “long term interests of Brazil in meeting its public health needs… not upon some longer term commercial calculation on the part of industrial authorities in Brazil as to where they would like to be ten years from now in terms of production,” Allgeier continued.


“I am encouraged by USTR’s testimony on Brazil’s intellectual property theft.  This theft has gone on at the expense of the American people and the U.S. economy,” said Nancie Marzulla, president of Defenders of Property Rights. 


“If negotiations fail to convince Brazil to change its ways, the U.S. Trade Representative should consider sanctions against Brazil.”


DPR recently called on U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman to take a hard line with Brazil when it comes to protecting American intellectual property rights. 


Brazil stands as the number one abuser of Intellectual Property rights in the Western Hemisphere costing American businesses an estimated US$ 900 million in losses in 2003 alone, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA). 


Intellectual property related industry in the United States accounts for 15% of GDP and 10% of the American workforce.


Brazil, one of America’s largest trading partners, exported goods valued at US$ 21.3 billion in 2003 to the U.S., of which, 14 percent enjoyed duty-free status. 


In January 2001, due to a petition from the IIPA for a chronic lack of enforcement of copyright laws, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) placed Brazil on the Special 301 Watchlist. 


On April 4, 2005 of this year, USTR gave Brazil six months to reverse its intellectual property abuses or lose its favored trade status with the United States. 


In spite of this warning from the USTR, Brazil’s government has publicly announced that it will seize American patents of drugs so that, according to recent reports on Brazilian President Lula’s visit to Africa, it can become a generic drug exporter to the developing world.


Defenders of Property Rights was founded in 1991, according to the organization, to counterbalance the governmental threat to private property as a result of a broad range of regulations. 


Defenders of Property Rights
www.yourpropertyrights.org

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