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Intellectual Property Rights in the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement

The intellectual property rights (IPR) chapter of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (the “Agreement”) contains state-of-the-art protections spanning all types of intellectual property, and requirements to join key multilateral IPR agreements. The Agreement also contains strong enforcement provisions to ensure that all American intellectual property rights are efficiently and effectively protected in Panama.

KEY ELEMENTS:

• Protection for Copyrighted Works in a Digital Economy: The Agreement provides for several forms of IPR protection that are important in the digital environment. Under the terms of the Agreement, Panama will develop strong anti-circumvention provisions to prohibit tampering with technologies designed to prevent piracy and unauthorized access to songs, movies, or other work over the Internet. Panama will also criminalize the willful and unauthorized receipt or distribution of encrypted satellite signals to combat piracy of satellite television programs. Under the Agreement, Panama will extend protection for copyrighted works consistent with U.S. law and emerging international standards.

• Tough Penalties for Piracy and Counterfeiting: The Agreement calls on Panama to provide strong, deterrent criminal penalties against copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting, including, for example, end-user piracy of software. To strengthen enforcement procedures, the Agreement authorizes the seizure, forfeiture and destruction of counterfeit and pirated goods and the equipment used to produce them. It also permits customs officials and prosecutors to bring an IPR enforcement action without having to wait for a formal complaint from the right holders.

• Patents & Regulated Products: The Agreement ensures that the parties will provide robust patent and test data protection, while respecting the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. Under the Agreement, Panama will clarify and limit the grounds for revoking a patent. The Agreement also clarifies that test and other data submitted to the government for the purpose of product approval will normally be protected against unfair commercial use for a period of 5 years from product approval for pharmaceuticals and for a period of 10 years from product approval for agricultural chemicals. If Panama relies on U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of a given drug, and meets certain conditions for expeditious approval of that drug in Panama, the period of data protection will begin on the date of product approval in the United States. The Agreement also establishes procedures and remedies to expeditiously adjudicate patent disputes regarding pharmaceutical products, and ensure that patent holders have sufficient time and opportunity to seek available remedies prior to the marketing of allegedly infringing products

• State-of-the Art Protection for U.S. Trademarks: The Panama Agreement contains a number of elements that will strengthen Panama’s protection of U.S. trademarks. Panama will develop, to the maximum degree practical, an online system for registration and maintenance of trademarks. The Agreement applies the principle of “first-in-time, first-in-right” to trademark and geographical indications, so that the first person who acquires a right to a trademark or geographical indication is the person who has the right to use it exclusively. Under the Agreement, Panama will also develop a system to resolve disputes about trademarks used in Internet domain names, which is important to prevent "cyber-squatting" with respect to high-value domain names.