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U.S. REFUSAL TO SIGN BIODIVERSITY TREATY WINS PMA THANKS

Executive Summary

U.S. REFUSAL TO SIGN BIODIVERSITY TREATY WINS PMA THANKS in a June 9 letter from Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association President Mossinghoff to President Bush. "The...Convention on Biological Diversity would undermine the great progress your Administration has made in encouraging other countries...to strengthen their patent laws," Mossinghoff said. "The unclear [treaty] language relating to 'technology transfer' and equitable sharing appear to be code words for compulsory licensing and other forms of property acquisition. Your sensitivity to these matters is most gratifying." The U.S. is the only country that did not sign the biodiversity treaty at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Administration and U.S. industry objected to provisions directing companies that develop products from living substances such as plants or microbes found in other countries to share the technology and profits with the source countries. Contending that this provision undermines patent protections, the State Department has argued that the agreements covering these situations should be negotiated individually by companies and source nations ("The Pink Sheet" June 8, T&G-14). Mossinghoff's letter declares that the "industry considers your continuing strong support for protection of both the environment and intellectual property rights as an indication of your commitment to ensuring American competitiveness in the international arena." * Separately, the U.S. Trade Representative has identified Taiwan as a "priority foreign country" that appears to be denying U.S. firms effective intellectual property rights and market access. USTR began a "Section 301" investigation of Taiwan on May 29 and is seeking written comments from the public by July 6. Specific "deficiencies" that USTR has noted include inadequate protections under Taiwan law for owners of U.S. patents. USTR will decide within six months whether the evidence supports seeking trade sanctions against Taiwan.
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