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NAFTA’s IP Protections Should Reflect Today’s Global Economy
Negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) offer an opportunity to harmonize and strengthen IP standards across North America. A more effective IP chapter in an updated NAFTA agreement will support the growth of innovative and creative industries, create jobs, and stimulate economic competitiveness across the continent.
While the IP standards included in the existing NAFTA agreement were considered comprehensive when the agreement was originally negotiated, the rapid evolution of biomedical and technological innovation and the growth of the digital economy require a modernized 21st century IP framework to adequately protect the high-risk, high-capital investments of innovators and creators across North America.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) commissioned research to benchmark the standards of the initial NAFTA agreement against those included in the U.S. Chamber’s 2018 International IP Index (Index). The research reveals that the initial NAFTA agreement no longer offers sufficient IP protections for 21st century innovators and creators, scoring only 15.93 out of a possible 33 points—only 48%.
The research specifically identifies the following gaps in the existing NAFTA. For further details on each indicator, see the appendix of the study.
Category 1: Patents, Related Rights, and Limitations
Category 2: Copyrights, Related Rights, and Limitations
Category 3: Trademarks, Related Rights, and Limitations
Category 4: Trade Secrets and Related Rights
Category 6: Enforcement
Category 8: Membership and Ratification of International Treaties
To adequately protect North America’s innovators and creators and encourage investment in the next generation of technology, negotiators must utilize the NAFTA modernization to go beyond the standards included in the original TPP agreement. Strengthening IP protection through NAFTA will re-establish North America’s position of global leadership and propel the region to become one of the most competitive trade blocs in the world.