Monday, October 1, 2018

Life Is Short, Art Is Long, But IP Is Longer

The full text of the inartfully-named United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement ("USMCA?") on North American trade was released on October 1, 2018.  It betrays considerable tinkering with the intellectual property provisions of the existing North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"), along with several substantial changes.

Perhaps the two most important of the latter are those extending the minimum terms of data exclusivity for biologics to 10 years (USMCA Article 20.F.14(1)) and increasing minimum copyright term to life of the natural person author plus 70 years (USMCA Article 20.H.7(a)).  While not altering already-lengthy U.S. term-lengths, Canadian ones for will have to be lengthened substantially, by 25% for data exclusivity and 20 years for copyright term.

Intellectual property owners will be happy.  Advocates of free innovation will not be.  However, by lengthening terms, USMCA is merely conforming to a general global pattern of statutory strengthening of intellectual property.

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