The fires of the long running trade dispute between Antigua and the U.S., previously blogged about here, were recently stoked by the January 21, 2013 Speech from the Throne. In it, Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack reiterated the intent to suspend TRIPS obligations to the U.S., but did not provide any substantive direction regarding what that might entail.
Frustrated over the delay by the United States in implementing the 2004 WTO decision following our success in the US/Antigua and Barbuda dispute over remote or Internet gaming, my Government will seek to implement the arbitration panel’s 2007 decision that Antigua and Barbuda should have recourse to the suspension of US intellectual property interests under the TRIPS agreement in order to get value out of the sanctions awarded. Our once-flourishing gaming industry has been ruined by US laws prohibiting and criminalizing the provision of remote gaming services from Antigua and Barbuda to consumers in the United States which laws have been held to be in violation of International law. Accordingly, necessary amendments will be made to the Copyrights Act, the Trade Marks Act, and the Patents Act to invoke the WTO-approved sanctions by removing any protection which US intellectual property may have in Antigua and Barbuda.
Though early reports envisioned an online platform, potentially offering copyrighted content without the obligation to pay royalties to U.S. copyright holders, the Governor General’s speech indicates Antiguan authorities are considering a much broader framework. Of note though, is the aggregate yearly limit of $21 Million U.S.D. set by the WTO Dispute Resolution Body, regardless of which IP rights are suspended.