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Large US Corporations Push for Software Patents Through South Korean FTA

Signs in Korean



Summary: A 'free' trade agreement (FTA) is being used to blackmail Korea into accepting the unacceptable, namely software patents

IT was only recently that the president of the FFII spotted a subscribers-only article and wrote:

US coalition asks for software patents in South Korea FTA, cites China and India TRIPS interpretation against swpats http://ur1.ca/2htvk


Thankfully we have some text from the article and with fair use doctrine we are able to give a flavour of it. "The article is copyrighted," wrote an anonymous reader to us, "but maybe you could cite relevant parts of it," said this reader, who had access to the text. They are "[p]ushing software patents through free trade agreements," wrote a person who interpreted this article and here is the overall analysis:

According to the article below, a business coalition paper on IP issues is asking USTR to use TPP to:

-"replicate the IPR provisions of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, especially when it comes to patents and copyrights.

-go "beyond the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). For instance, it states that the TPP should outlaw camcording in theaters, despite the fact that the ACTA made it optional for countries to have criminal penalties for camcording.

-reject the "May 2007 compromise on patent provisions struck between the Bush administration and House Democrats, which weakened patent protections in FTAs that the U.S. had negotiated with developing countries."

-include pharmaceutical chapter targeting the reimbursement policies of the Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand (PHARMAC)

-"demand that all TPP countries fully implement the World Intellectual Property Organization's Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), something that New Zealand and Vietnam have not yet done"


To quote fragments from article "Inside U.S. Trade" (12/03/2010):

A confidential draft paper by a business coalition to advise the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on the intellectual property negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks shows that U.S. companies are fighting back against European Union efforts to protect geographical indications (GIs) in other countries.


Here come patents:

In provisions other than GIs, the paper largely urges the U.S. to replicate the IPR provisions of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, especially when it comes to patents and copyrights.


More on patents:

The Korea FTA was not affected by the IPR provisions of the May 2007 compromise, meaning that it contains what U.S. industry groups consider to be the highest level of protection to date. The paper does not delve into any specifics on patent linkage, data exclusivity and patent term extensions, which are the areas covered by the 2007 compromise.


Look who's behind it:

This seemingly cautious approach by the business coalition differs from that of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), both coalition members, which have publicly called on USTR not to repeat the 2007 compromise on IPR in the TPP negotiations.

The coalition paper was written by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), sources said.


Here come software patents:

The paper asks USTR to go beyond the Korea FTA in terms of computer implemented inventions, which are essentially patents on software.


This is how Microsoft extorts Samsung and LG (Korean companies), pulling money out of them for the use of Android.

Here's TRIPS:

While the Korea FTA requires parties to uphold the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the problem with TRIPS is that many signatories, including China and India, interpret it to mean that they do not have to provide patent protection for computer implemented inventions, according to the coalition paper.


More on TRIPS in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and here's the next bunch of paragraphs:

"Thus, the language of the TPP agreement needs to be strengthened to specifically require providing patent protection for computer implemented inventions," the paper argues.

The issue of computer implemented inventions touches on a larger debate on the scope of patent protection, one source said.

Patents clearly apply for new physical inventions or even a new process for performing a task. However, patents are generally not granted for formulas or algorithms, because that would be patenting knowledge itself, and would impede scientific progress, this source explained.


Outrageous. Recall who's behind this. It's not Koreans. On it goes, elucidating the US role in it:

While the U.S. currently grants software patents, some argue that these patents are essentially just the algorithm or formula itself, although written in computer code. If these software patents were all enforced, it could have the perverse effect of crippling the ability of different companies to innovate by devising new software, critics argue.

While companies currently amass these software patents, they do so largely for defensive reasons. Under this strategy, if a first company holding many software patents is challenged by another for infringement, it can look to try to find a case when that challenging company is also infringing a patent held by the first company, this source said.


This is untrue. Microsoft uses software patents offensively, e.g. against Linux and Android. They are just making up excuses for legalising software patents (calling them "defensive", as if there is something about software which makes the already-granted patents inherently different).

What this amounts to is a sort of extortion and it helps show the US role in writing Korea's law. Here is evidence of the continued attempts to impose US-style copyrights (the 'Mickey Mouse' law) on the whole world:

The draft also urges USTR to demand that all TPP countries fully implement the World Intellectual Property Organization's Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), something that New Zealand and Vietnam have not yet done, another source pointed out.


Wikileaks has just unearthed another scandal. It's just that, as Wikileaks helps show, Spain's proposed copyright law was written by the United States. We wrote about it this morning while mentioning Amazon as one of the companies which set/write the laws in other countries like Canada (still wrestling against crazy copyright deform). Wikileaks has some ACTA-related leaks (cables) coming, so it is clear why US diplomats fight tooth and nail to take the site and its mirrors down (see the latest news below). Even France is now trying to ban the site, possibly because it turns out that Hadopi came from the United States. Sarko is being shown for the traitor he has been.

Some other posts about Korea:



Latest Wikileaks news:



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