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By Anandashankar Mazumdar
The preliminary U.S.-Mexico trade pact includes enhanced copyright, trademark and trade secrets protections.
The deal contains provisions that would shield U.S. rightsholders from trade secrets theft, including through civil and criminal remedies, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a fact sheet.
“Full national treatment” for copyrights for U.S. creators in foreign markets and a notice-and-takedown system for internet service providers that violate copyrights are also in the deal, according to the USTR statement.
The agreement would offer “strong and effective protection and enforcement of IP rights critical to driving innovation, creating economic growth, and supporting American jobs,” the USTR said.
The agreement also includes stronger standards for new geographic indicators, which are product names that can only be used for goods from specific locations and would prevent U.S. producers from using common names, the administration said.
The preliminary deal also would create a minimum 75-year term of copyright protection for song performances. Records made before 1972 aren’t covered under federal copyright law, so those musicians don’t get paid for digital replays.
The Turtles and other oldies acts have sued services such as Pandora and Sirius XM Radio to get royalties under state law. Pending congressional legislation would extend a royalty right to pre-1972 sound recordings.
The two countries would establish a notice-and-takedown system for alleged infringement online under the deal, with safe harbors for online service providers, the administration said.
Eighteen organizations of artists and publishers, including the Recording Industry Association of America and the Recording Academy. criticized the language in a joint statement.
Such safe harbors for internet service providers perpetuate “the theft of American music, creating safe havens” that hamper copyright enforcement efforts, the groups said.
Public Knowledge, a Washington D.C.-based digital consumer rights group, blasted the prospective copyright term extension as a “staggeringly brazen attempt by the entertainment industries to launder unpopular policies through international agreements.”
“Not only would a copyright term extension never survive domestic debate, but it also violates the instructions Congress gave in trade promotion authority, which directed the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate intellectual property provisions consistent with existing law,” Gus Rossi, the group’s global policy director, said in the statement.
The U.S. dairy industry and other food and agricultural producers would be protected under the deal from the spread of protections for geographical indicators. The dairy industry has complained to the U.S. trade representative that the European Union is working on trade deals, including with Mexico, that restrict use of names that U.S. producers consider generic, such as Gruyere or Parmesan.
The deal would require procedural protections so that U.S. producers can keep using certain product names.
The deal, if finalized, would provide the most stringent trade secrets provisions in any U.S. free trade agreement, the administration said. U.S. intellectual property holders would have broad protection from theft of trade secrets, including by state-owned enterprises, the USTR said in its fact sheet.
The proposed deal would provide safeguards for U.S. rights holders, such as civil and criminal remedies and trade secrets protection in court proceedings, the administration said. It would also prohibit actions to hinder trade secrets licensing and provide penalties for illegal trade secret disclosure by government officials.
—With assistance from Malathi Nayak, Kyle Jahner and Rebecca Baker
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