The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

NAFTA Negotiators Should Promote Strong IP Rights

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


As the May 18 deadline for negotiating a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) looms, negotiators should consider closely how intellectual property (IP) rights will be treated between the countries involved.

According to the Global Innovation Policy Center’s (GIPC) 2018 International IP Index, which measures 50 countries against 40 IP indicators, the U.S. ranked first in overall scores, with Canada in the 17th spot overall, and Mexico taking the 24th position.  Patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and secure property rights, including confidential business information and regulatory data protection, play a critical role in the nation’s economy, with IP-centric sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices manufacturers, semiconductors, technology, and movies make up a large contribution to the economy. 

The impact IP has on the economy cannot be overstated.  Industries in the creative communities have added $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy; and the biopharmaceutical industry has created more than 4.7 million American jobs and contributed $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economic output.  Therefore, it is critical that the U.S. Trade Representative immediately focus his attention to the IP Chapter of the NAFTA modernization, and push for a strong IP rights package that will protect the innovative and creative communities, and provide legal certainty for these industries to make high-risk, high-capital investments into the latest developments for creative content, cutting-edge technologies, and next generation medical innovations. 

The NAFTA modernization should be viewed as an opportunity to harmonize the IP framework across North America, and create an incentive for both Canada and Mexico to improve their standing in the world by creating a strong IP protection regime.  By maintaining the highest standards for IP protection and enforcement, as found in U.S. law, all three nations will benefit. 

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