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WTO Consultations Regarding Argentina-Patent and Test Data Protection

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Office of the United States Trade Representative.


Notice; request for comments.


The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is providing notice that on May 30, 2000, the United States requested consultations with Argentina under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO), regarding Argentina's failure to fully implement its obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) with respect to its legal regimes governing patents and data protection. The United States considers Argentina's patent and data protection regimes to be inconsistent with its obligations under the TRIPS Agreement, including Articles 27, 28, 31, 34, 39, 50, 62, 65 and 70 of the Agreement. Pursuant to Article 4.3 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU), such consultations are to take place within a period of 30 days from the date of the request, or within a period otherwise mutually agreed between the United States and Argentina. USTR invites written comments from the public concerning the issues raised in this dispute.


Although USTR will accept any comments received during the course of the dispute settlement proceedings, comments should be submitted on or before July 28, 2000, to be assured of timely consideration by USTR.


Submit comments to Sandy McKinzy, Monitoring and Enforcement Unit, Office of the General Counsel, Room 122, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20508, Attn: Argentina—Patent and Test Data Protection Dispute: Telephone: (202) 395-3582.

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Stephen Kho, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., (202) 395-3581.

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Section 127(b) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) (19 U.S.C. 3537(b)(1)) requires that notice and opportunity for comment be provided after the United States submits or receives a request for the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel. Consistent with this obligation, but in an effort to provide additional opportunity for comment, USTR is providing notice that consultations have been requested pursuant to the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding. If such consultations should fail to resolve the matter and a dispute settlement panel is established pursuant to the DSU, such panel, which would hold its meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, would be expected to issue a report on its findings and recommendations within six to nine months after it is established.

Major Issues Raised by the United States

On May 6, 1999, the United States filed a consultation request (WT/DS171/1) regarding Argentina's failure to provide a system of exclusive marketing rights for pharmaceutical products, and to ensure that changes in its laws and regulations do not result in a lesser degree of consistency with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. Consultations were held on June 15, 1999 and again on July 27, 1999. On May 30, 2000, the United States supplemented its claims in this dispute with additional concerns that have arisen as a result of Argentina's failure to fully implement its remaining TRIPS obligations that came due on January 1, 2000. These new concerns relate to Argentina's regimes governing patents in Law 24,481 (as amended by Law 24,572), Law 24,603, and Decree 260/96; and data protection in Law 24,766 and Regulation 440/98, and in other related statutes and regulations. Specifically, Start Printed Page 36498the United States believes that, in addition to the previous claims, Argentina:

  • Fails to protect against unfair commercial use of undisclosed test or other data, submitted as a requirement for market approval of pharmaceutical or agricultural chemical products;
  • Improperly excludes certain subject matter, including micro-organisms, from patentability;
  • Fails to provide prompt and effective provisional measures, such as preliminary injunctions, for purposes of preventing infringements of patent rights from occurring;
  • Denies certain exclusive rights for patents, such as the protection of products produced by patented processes and the right of importation;
  • Fails to provide certain safeguards for the granting of compulsory licenses, including timing and justification safeguards for compulsory licenses granted on the basis of inadequate working;
  • Improperly limits the authority of its judiciary to shift the burden of proof in civil proceedings involving the infringements of process patent rights; and
  • Places impermissible limitations on certain transitional patents so as to limit the exclusive rights conferred by these patents, and to deny the opportunity for patentees to amend pending applications in order to claim certain enhanced protection provided by the TRIPS Agreement.

As such, these new concerns appear to be inconsistent with Argentina's obligations under the TRIPS Agreement, including Articles 27, 28, 31, 34, 39, 50, 62, 65, and 70 of the Agreement.

Public Comment: Requirements for Submissions

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning the issues raised in the dispute. Comments must be in English and provided in fifteen copies. A person requesting that information contained in a comment submitted by that person be treated as confidential business information must certify that such information is business confidential and would not customarily be released to the public by the commenter. Confidential business information must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” in a contrasting color ink at the top of each page of each copy.

Information or advice contained in a comment submitted, other than business confidential information, may be determined by USTR to be confidential in accordance with section 135(g)(2) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2155(g)(2)). If the submitter believes that information or advice may qualify as such, the submitter—

(1) Must so designate the information or advice;

(2) Must clearly mark the material as “SUBMITTED IN CONFIDENCE” in a contrasting color ink at the top of each page of each copy; and

(3) Is encouraged to provide a non-confidential summary of the information or advice.

Pursuant to section 127(3) of the URAA (19 U.S.C. 3537(e)), USTR will maintain a file on this dispute settlement proceeding, accessible to the public, in the USTR Reading Room: Room 101, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20508. The public file will include a listing of any comments received by USTR from the public with respect to the dispute; if a dispute settlement panel is convened, the U.S. submissions to that panel, the submissions, or non-confidential summaries of submissions, to the panel received from other participants in the dispute, as well as the report of the panel; and, if applicable, the report of the Appellate Body. An appointment to review the public file (Docket WTO/D-196, Argentina—Patent and Test Data Protection Dispute) may be made by calling Brenda Webb, (202) 395-6186. The USTR Reading Room is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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A. Jane Bradley,

Assistant United States Trade Representative for Monitoring and Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. 00-14510 Filed 6-7-00; 8:45 am]