US TPP Negotiators Accused Of Bullying; Refusing To Budge On Ridiculous IP And Corporate Sovereignty Demands

from the i'm-sorry-for-my-country's-insane-negotiators dept

This is hardly a surprise, but more reports are coming out revealing that the US’s ongoing strategy in negotiating the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) agreement is to not take into account the many, many concerns about the US’s hardline, maximalist position on both intellectual property issues and efforts to give corporations sovereignty over national laws under the misleadingly named (and purposely boring) “investor state dispute settlements” (ISDS). You would think that with widespread dissection and concerns expressed about the leaked intellectual property chapter, that the USTR might possibly ease up on its crazy maximalist demands. Not so — but that’s to be expected when you have Stan McCoy as the lead negotiator on intellectual property issues. McCoy is a famed extreme maximalist on IP issues who has more or less admitted to having no interest at all in hearing from public interest groups, while lapping up any opportunity to parrot bogus claims from the industry. McCoy was the same guy behind the embarassing disaster known as ACTA, which flopped so miserably. You’d think he’d take a hint, but instead it appears he’s decided to dig in his heels and make sure the US continues to live up to its reputation as an obnoxious bully.

Multiple reports have called out the US (and McCoy in particular) for its aggression and “bullying” in the negotiations. Others have accused the US of engaging in a “negotiation by exhaustion,” in which US negotiators seem to figure if they just stand their ground forever, everyone will eventually be bullied into agreeing to the US’s positions.


‘The US has adopted a strategy of exhaustion in its bullying of negotiators on the crucial intellectual property chapter to force countries to trade away health in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations in Salt Lake City’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, who is monitoring the negotiations.

‘The US has stepped up its aggression as they move towards their “end point” of the TPPA ministerial meeting in Singapore from 7 to 10 December’, said Professor Kelsey.

[….] ‘This is a loaded game’, Professor Kelsey said. ‘McCoy sets the agenda and timetable. Negotiators are working from morning until late at night and preparing to work all night, if necessary.’

The second link above, from a publication in Australia, notes something similar and complains about the Australian government’s seeming willingness to side with the US on these issues:


The United States has been accused of negotiation by exhaustion in last-minute talks in Salt Lake City ahead of the final ministers’ meeting that will decide the makeup of the Trans Pacific trade deal between Australia and eleven other nations.

Information leaking from the closed official-level talks suggests the United States is giving no ground on questions of intellectual property and medicines and is insisting each nation sign up to so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions that would allow global corporations to sue sovereign governments.

[….] “What is happening is not a negotiation,” said Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade Network. “The United States is dictating the terms and it seems the Australian Government is not prepared to join other governments which are resisting these demands

While Stan McCoy plays out his own last stand game, pushing for policies that may help a few of his friends in the industry at the expense of the public, hopefully that last point — about other governments resisting McCoy’s attempt to bully them into a really bad deal — stays true. An analysis of the positions on the IP Chapter, done by Gabriel Michael, highlighted how the US’s position is a lot more isolated than it might like. That may explain the bullying behavior. It looks like the USTR is getting desperate, realizing its usual tricks and games aren’t fooling most of the other negotiators. As Michael’s analysis showed, the US and Japan (two of the strongest supporters of maximalism) appear to be fairly isolated — issuing a lot more proposals that no one else supports.

Of course, the USTR is somewhat famous for its ability to start horse trading, promising bogus sweetheart deals if people just agree to awful language that will do massive harm to the public, so it’s still something to be quite nervous about until any final text is revealed. Of course, just the fact that the USTR has still refused to reveal the text itself should be reason enough to recognize that this deal is a joke designed to screw over the public. Those acting in the interest of the public don’t hide their efforts from the public.

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Comments on “US TPP Negotiators Accused Of Bullying; Refusing To Budge On Ridiculous IP And Corporate Sovereignty Demands”

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32 Comments
Mason Wheelersays:

The TPP is tainted. People say “Congress won’t want to have to just throw the entire thing out because there could be parts in there that are good.” But I think by now, we’re to the point where it doesn’t matter. This proposed treaty has been tainted and is officially “toxic” now, and the entire thing should be thrown out.

Anonymoussays:

Am I being paranoid?

Investor state dispute settlements

These could become a nightmare in the hands of IP maximalists, implement the laws we want or we will demand compensation for the theoretical loss. A state could be bankrupted if it makes cheap drugs, or fails ti give the copyright cartels control over what is allowed on the Interenet.

That One Guysays:

Re: Not paranoia at all

That is exactly the purpose of ISDS ‘agreements’, to enable companies to threaten countries on equal footing(if not from of position of more power than the country), able to dictate the creation or dissolution of laws, with the threat of lawsuits to recover ‘lost profits’ should the country refuse.

Anonymoussays:

OK, so we have the US and Japan dug in. Australia is either tacitly with them or on the sidelines watching. Mexico has called for life plus 100 year copyright term so I have to believe that it’s on the side of tighter copyright. NZ? I haven’t heard a lot of opposition from their government.

So who exactly is the opposition? What if any leverage do they have?

Chargonesays:

Re: Re:

NZ has a PM who may as well be in the multi-national/american corporations’corporations pokets, if only by way of being the same sort of person as their upper levels, while simultaniously the PM’s party has the tightest control over parliament since we swapped from FPP voting. Any single MP outside the party voting with them gives them a majority, letting them get away with a lot of stupid stuff.

Fortunately, it’s blatently onvious that they’ve shot themselves in the foot with repeated scandle, bad moves, ‘screw the little guy’, dismissing any objections to their plans… let’s just say their popularity’s in the toilet and they only won the last election due to media shinanigans claiming it was a forgone conclusion leading to an unusually low voter turnout over all. The bureaucrats can mostly see that, which helps a bit. I was actually surprised to see the NZ offficial position being Against so many bad ideas given the dodgy moves the current government’s pulled. (Passing already rejected and publicly panned copyright legislation under urgency as part of dealing with the Canterbury earthquale, for example.)

The Logiciansays:

They must be dealt with

McCoy’s increasing desperation is an emotional, illogical response to the failure of ACTA, his previous such project. However, it is unsurprising given his position. It is unfortunate that those such as he are permitted to retain power and cause further damage. We cannot make any lasting positive changes for our nations and societies while individuals such as he remain unpunished and in their positions of power. They must be dealt with first, and exposed for what they truly are.

Anonymoussays:

IMHO, these large, multinational corporations, in their unending quest for PROFIT at any cost, are slowly but surely destroying the planet and civilization. The longer we allow this to continue, the worse it gets. They may already be too rich and powerful to curb effectively, but we should try. The world of “Buy-n-Large” and Wall-e is a lot closer than most think.

Anonymoussays:

Summary of Investor-State dispute resolution. These types of clauses are out of the ordinary, but then again in any relationship between an investor and a sovereign the sovereign is essentially judgment proof if it happens to breach the investment agreement. Not sure that placing two parties on a more equal footing is necessarily a bad thing.

As for IP section, I am not aware of anything the US has proposed that is not within the scope of international treaties. If the USTR is playing “hard ball”, then good for him. Maybe we should move his over from the USTR to the Department of State, which seems to be in sore need of people who understand and are able to negotiate and close deals that actually mean something.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re:

Summary of Investor-State dispute resolution. These types of clauses are out of the ordinary, but then again in any relationship between an investor and a sovereign the sovereign is essentially judgment proof if it happens to breach the investment agreement. Not sure that placing two parties on a more equal footing is necessarily a bad thing.

If you actually understood how it’s being used in practice, you’d realize that’s not true. It’s disingenuous to downright dishonest to argue that, say, refusing to grant a patent that Eli Lilly wants, is a form of “breaching an investment agreement.”

And there are mechanisms in place to deal with such sovereign abuse, from country level sanctions, to the actual loss of business, to the WTO. You don’t need to give corporations sovereign powers above and beyond.

As for IP section, I am not aware of anything the US has proposed that is not within the scope of international treaties.

That’s not really the issue is it? The issue is that what the US is proposing is flat out crony capitalism to over protect a few lame industries, at the expense of everyone else, including innovators and the public.

Some of us believe that we shouldn’t have the government protecting such companies. I recognize that you, as a product of just such a company, feels like the government’s job is to protect your salary. That’s why it’s difficult to take you seriously.

If the USTR is playing “hard ball”, then good for him.

Not if the proposals are bad. Are you so incredibly dense as to honestly believe that any proposal is good so long as the USTR is playing hardball?

Maybe we should move his over from the USTR to the Department of State, which seems to be in sore need of people who understand and are able to negotiate and close deals that actually mean something.

Oh, I get it. You’re simply clueless.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sheesh…you antipathy towards virtually all legal proceedings seems to be preventing you from giving consideration to the fact that private entities and sovereign nations do not stand on a equal footing in matters of law.

Re what you term “crony capitalism”, the squeaky wheel does get the grease, and especially when that wheel is associated with a major industry that might easily be undercut by a waive of the hand with a foreign signatory to a trade agreement. Are you really so utopian na?ve that a foreign signatory can by the easiest of measures give promises “come to our country, you will not at all regret it” and then trash those promises the minute it suits them?

Of course proceedings under the terms of international treaties have been around for many, many years. And, of course, as we all know multi-year proceedings are not exactly an optimal course towards resolution when weeks/months count. Much like in the context of police response, when seconds count they will be there in minutes, if not more.

We are playing hardball for any number of reasons, some tied to the economic importance of what we proposed to export, the importance that once exported they deserve to be subject to a level playing field, etc.

You keep harping that the US is being a bully for trying to secure agreement by others that US rules of law should serve where appropriate as a legal framework. Are you really so uninformed that you fail to realize that much of current US law was imported into to US by necessity in order for US industries to export into a level playing field, and that much of what has transpired over the years has been to change many excesses of those imported laws to make them more palatable and fair? Not that you will deign to agree, but contrary to the positions you spout US laws of these types are not created in a vacuum and do receive significant consideration before presented as legislative bills. One would think that the Copyright Act of 1976, which had its beginning in the early to mid 50’s would give a clue.

As for what it takes to be a political deal maker, I suggest you stick with where you are. High stakes discussions are not for the faint of heart who have degrees from Utopian University.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sheesh…you antipathy towards virtually all legal proceedings seems to be preventing you from giving consideration to the fact that private entities and sovereign nations do not stand on a equal footing in matters of law.

I have no antipathy at all towards legitimate legal proceedings. Not sure why you’d read otherwise unless — as you have proven time and time again, you’re simply not very good at understanding things, and prefer to throw insults my way rather than unlearn the bullshit you learned after years of working in an industry that relied almost exclusively on government support.

No, companies don’t stand on equal footing. That’s kind of the way it should be — which is the very point we were making which, as per usual went way over your head. We’re quite concerned with the consequences of giving corporations their own sovereignty, as we’ve explained in detail, and which you have yet to give a good reason to disagree other than “nuh uh.”

Re what you term “crony capitalism”, the squeaky wheel does get the grease, and especially when that wheel is associated with a major industry that might easily be undercut by a waive of the hand with a foreign signatory to a trade agreement. Are you really so utopian na?ve that a foreign signatory can by the easiest of measures give promises “come to our country, you will not at all regret it” and then trash those promises the minute it suits them?

Again, there are already quite reasonable mechanisms in place to deal with exactly that situation without giving corporations sovereign level powers to totally disrupt country-level decisions about what is best for the public concerning things like intellectual property, access to medicines, employee safety and the like.

We are playing hardball for any number of reasons, some tied to the economic importance of what we proposed to export, the importance that once exported they deserve to be subject to a level playing field, etc.

A “level playing field” is a bullshit statement.. That’s the lie that the USTR is spreading and you fell for it. You’re incredibly gullible when it comes to people spewing bullshit.

You keep harping that the US is being a bully for trying to secure agreement by others that US rules of law should serve where appropriate as a legal framework. Are you really so uninformed that you fail to realize that much of current US law was imported into to US by necessity in order for US industries to export into a level playing field, and that much of what has transpired over the years has been to change many excesses of those imported laws to make them more palatable and fair? Not that you will deign to agree, but contrary to the positions you spout US laws of these types are not created in a vacuum and do receive significant consideration before presented as legislative bills. One would think that the Copyright Act of 1976, which had its beginning in the early to mid 50’s would give a clue.

As per usual, you either do not understand, or purposely misrepresent what I’ve said. Why you feel the need to do this… I have my suspicions.

That said, yes, of course treaties are used to align certain rules. But that doesn’t mean all rules should be aligned. In fact, your example proves my point. The state of awful copyright law we’re in today is partly because of this stupid process, making it nearly impossible to fix some of the worst things of copyright. I’ve even seen you mention, I believe, that you agree copyright terms are too long. Wouldn’t it be great if we weren’t stuck in Berne and could actually fix it?

The problems of locking in laws that may be really really stupid and harmful to the public and to the economy should be obvious — unless you are willfully ignorant.

As for what it takes to be a political deal maker, I suggest you stick with where you are. High stakes discussions are not for the faint of heart who have degrees from Utopian University.

And of course, the blatant insult. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you really shouldn’t insult people who know better than you. You are wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about and you pretend you’re a hell of a lot smarter than everyone, when nearly every time you open your mouth you make it clear that you are, remain, and continue to be full of shit.

Anonymoussays:

like everything else involving the USA, it is never a ‘negotiation’, it is always ‘orders’ and everyone else is expected to do as they are told, like children!

the pharma parts will benefit only USA companies, making death inevitable, probably painful, and much sooner for millions who cant afford to pay US prices and whose countries are forbidden to produce ‘look alike drugs’ themselves. the IP part is to protect only make believe industries and phone companies who think it is beneficial to lock a person to a network and deals that are atrocious according to other countries (except Canada, which is just as big a rip off as the USA!). to have conditions that allow countries to be sued when they try to prevent harm done to their own people by refusing the sanctioning of drugs that are unproven, and the figures be some ‘plucked from the air amount’ that the company says it COULD have lost but for sale prevention, is ridiculous! those same companies are very slow to own up and pay up when sued themselves for causing peoples deaths! if other countries give in to this shit, the governments need to be taken to task, removed and the ‘agreements’ terms used loosely, thrown out! the best overall decision would be to stop dealing with the USA altogether!

there isn’t one of these ‘negotiations’ that has not been started by the USA and isn’t for the benefit of the USA and it’s industries. every single one also is detrimental to every other country involved.

get out people. start talks with countries that are a lot more sincere than the USA has been or ever will be!!

Anonymoussays:

ATTN: Mike Masnick

***********************************************************
This site has recently instituted a policy of placing stealth video ads (stealth because they don’t start until you’ve been there for a minute or so) on it’s pages. I find this annoying and distracting, because I have to chase around to find out where the noise is coming from and stop it. This page had two of them on it, one starting after the other.

Because of this, I am ceasing visiting your site.
***********************************************************

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: ATTN: Mike Masnick

This site has recently instituted a policy of placing stealth video ads (stealth because they don’t start until you’ve been there for a minute or so) on it’s pages. I find this annoying and distracting, because I have to chase around to find out where the noise is coming from and stop it. This page had two of them on it, one starting after the other.

This is simply untrue. We have a strict policy with all of our advertising partners that they cannot show autoplay video or audio ads. It is true that sometimes they sneak through. In such cases, the best thing is to alert us (if you can take a screenshot, even better) and let us smack our ad partners around about it.

Anonymoussays:

“TPPA AND ITS ADVANTAGES TO ASIA-PACIFIC: THE CASE OF MALAYSIA AS MEMBER OF ASEAN BLOC”

Malaysia, and other developing countries in ASEAN region, is keen to liberalise trade and intellectual property rights-related inventions to maximise climate change objectives (CC-os) within the Kytoto protocol.

The on-going negotiations must take into view SMES’ interests, particularly, the transfer of patents to drive green technologies.

The new MYBIOMASS, is a good deliverable under the TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER MECHANISM of UNFFFF as per COP-16 drummed out in cancun, mexico in 2010.

it is hoped that TPPA will consider and incorporate green procurement towards climate change objectives (CC-os) direction and not a dampener for Global Responsibility Framework in Asia-Pacific region.

……………….
JEONG CHUN PHUOC, EXT CONS, SL, ADV CLI
he can be reached at jeongchunphuoc@gmail.com

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