Strong TPP Intellectual Property Provisions Benefit Innovation, Consumers and Patients

Before the ink was dry on the historic Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that President Obama signed into law last month, writes Stephen Ezell in The Hill, opponents were already working to quash the next item on the president’s trade agenda: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). By leaking the text of the pact’s intellectual property (IP) chapter—which remains one of the last, yet most contentious, issues to be resolved—anti-traders hoped to revive tired, yet familiar, canards regarding the alleged nefarious consequences of the strong intellectual property (IP) provisions America’s trade negotiators have been steadfastly seeking for inclusion in the TPP. Such allegations include the inaccurate accusation that the TPP could “dump trillions of dollars of additional health care costs on patients, businesses and governments around the Pacific Rim” or that it will compromise access to affordable medicines throughout the Asia-Pacific region. But the reality is that if we want to conclude a trade agreement that creates the conditions by which innovative solutions to some of the world’s most intractable medical maladies can be found—not to mention an agreement that supports innovation across a wide range of other industries, from manufacturing to digital content—the TPP needs to include robust IP protections and strong enforcement mechanisms. Thus, for the sake of both future global innovation and for the interests of consumers and patients worldwide, Obama and pro-trade members of Congress must stay the course on robust IP protections as the United States heads into what may be the TPP’s final negotiating round.