Canada makes U.S. naughty list for IP rules
WASHINGTON - Canada has once again made the U.S. government's naughty list in an annual survey of intellectual property standards around the world.
It was the only G7 country among the 36 nations on this year's watch list, released Wednesday by the U.S. Trade Representative. The report singled out Canada's failure to protect drug patents and expressed alarm at how easily Canadian courts have struck them down.
The U.S. administration promised to push for changes in ongoing trade talks. It said unfair court decisions had cost American drug makers, and expressed hope the issue would be resolved during negotiations toward the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership.
"The United States ... has serious concerns about the lack of clarity and the impact of the heightened utility requirements for patents that Canadian courts have applied recently," said the USTR's annual report on intellectual property standards around the world, released Wednesday.
"Under this amorphous and evolving standard, courts can invalidate a patent on utility grounds by construing the 'promise of a patent' years after the patent has been granted, leading to uncertainty for patent holders and applicants and undermining incentives for investment in the pharmaceutical sector," the report said.
"In applying this standard, courts have invalidated a number of patents held by U.S. pharmaceutical companies, finding now that those products lack utility ... even though such products have been in the market and benefiting patients for years."
The annual survey looked at 82 countries and placed 37 on its list.
Canada and 25 other countries made the lower-level watch list, including Mexico, Brazil and Greece. Ten were placed on the more serious "priority" watch list, including China, India and Russia.
Ukraine was in a category of its own last year and faced possible sanctions, but that process has been suspended given the instability there.
Canada had actually improved its standing in 2013, following four years on the priority list, after a pair of moves by the Harper government including the Copyright Modernization Act, which targeted Internet piracy.
But earlier this month, 32 members of Congress wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to complain about Canadian patent standards. They said that the evolving interpretation of international patent law by Canadian judges had cost U. …