Antigua Could Face New Legal Hurdle

16 January 2008

An international intellectual property expert has warned the government of Antigua and Barbuda that it may violate an international treaty if it decides to suspend intellectual property rights to the United States.

Antigua's fight with the United States over U.S. laws against Internet gambling ended last month when a World Trade Organization arbitration panel awarded Antigua $21.1 million in trade sanctions against the United States, in the form of the suspension of intellectual property rights to the United States for its failure to comply with the WTO's 2006 ruling.

But, Jorgen Blomqvist, director of the Copyright Law Division of the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, told the Antigua Sun today that by suspending U.S. intellectual property trade protections, Antigua may breach the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which protects signatories from exactly such incidents, regardless of the WTO's ruling.

Antigua and Barbuda signed on to the Berne Convention on March 17, 2000, while the United States signed in March 1989.

"The fact that under one treaty you can make such sanctions does not relieve a country from responsibilities under other treaties," Blomqvist told the Sun.

But, because of the way the treaty was constructed -- it does not have a built in dispute resolution system -- there is much less recourse for member who feels their rights under the treaty have been violated, Blomqvist conceded.

Antigua Minister of Finance and the Economy Dr. Errol Cort today said he did not accept this argument and that he intends to address the issue immediately.

The IGN staff continually troll the wires, foreign papers, corporate news alert services and other dark, dusty corners of the Web to bring you the very latest industry news.