Israel Remains on US Priority Watch List

For the third year running, Israel appears on the Priority Watch List of the US Office of the Trade Representative (USTR).

This ranks Israel with Argentina, China, Chile, India, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela.

There are two main bones of contention. Israel passed a Copyright Law last November which comes into effect this month, replacing the Copyright Ordinance of 1911, remaining from the British Mandate. The new law does not address the issue of Internet copyright infringement by requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to prevent copyright infringement. 
The real problem is, however, the 2006 amendment to the Israel Patent Law that strikes a balance more pro generic drug manufacturer than the balance struck in the US.
The amendment is seen by some as being pro TEVA, Israel’s pharmaceutical company, which is the world’s most successful generic drug manufacturer.

We note however, that TEVA also develops drugs so is not only a generic manufacturer but a drug developer as well. That the balance between competing interests struck by the Israeli legislators is not identical to that considered appropriate in the US, does not mean that it is unfair.
Patent term extensions for drugs is a distortion that retroactively extends monopolistic protection to pharma companies for drugs they developed 15-20 years earlier. The US provided this extended protection to the pharma companies as a result of intense lobbying by powerful interest groups.

In a similar manner, the US extended their copyright laws in the Sonny Bono amendment to keep Mickey Mouse out of the public domain.

Lex Specialis is not good law, but taking into account local industry and consumers when striking a balance between conflicting values such as providing an incentive to invest in R&D to develop new drugs, bring down the price of established treatments, providing local jobs, etc. is legitimate.

The US was criticized by India for providing patents for Yoga positions and traditional knowledge. The European ambassador criticized the United States for passing political IP Laws against Havana Club Rum and for not providing royalties to Irish bands whose music is freely played in pubs across the States.  The whole WTO initiative was an attempt by the US to bypass WIPO, thereby enabling the United States to push her own interests in the international Arena.

Thus it is not so clear that Israel is at fault. Perhaps she is merely victim of US bully-boy tactics. 

Categories: drugs, GATT, Intellectual Property, Israel, Israel IP, Israel Related, News, Opinion, Patents, pharmaceuticals, pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, Teva, WIPO, World Trade Organization, WTO

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