On January 29, 2020, President Trump signed into law an updated trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement, or “USMCA,” was a fresh attempt by Congress to address some of the deficiencies of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which throughout the years has received criticism for not fully protecting American workers and entrepreneurs.
One specific area of focus when drafting the updated agreement was intellectual property rights. There was a general consensus among participating countries that intellectual property protections would need to be strengthened and expanded to address modern threats and oversights that the older trade agreement failed to take into consideration.
As such, the new USMCA features a number of new benefits and legal remedies for intellectual property owners in member countries, including:
- The expansion of copyright protection to 70 years after the death of the author for member nations. This is currently the law in the United States, but it is new for Canada (their copyright protection was previously set at 50 years after the death of the author).
- The strongest provisions yet on digital trade, such as forbidding countries from putting duties on electronic transmissions and prohibiting governments from asking tech companies to disclose their source code.
- The expansion of criminal penalties for the theft of trade secrets, including cybertheft.
- The expansion of provisions for protecting trademarks in order to assist companies in protecting their brands in which they have invested resources, time, and money to establish goodwill for their brands.
All of the specific intellectual property changes under the new USMCA can be found on the government’s website here.
Prevention is Still the Best Medicine
While the new provisions offered in the USMCA are a welcome start in addressing some of the emerging IP challenges in our modern era, they are not a substitute for having an individual plan to safeguard your trademarks, copyrights, and patents — especially if you are doing business in nations that are not included in this trade agreement.
If you want the peace of mind of knowing that you are doing everything possible to protect your business or brand in the United States and abroad, we invite you to contact our intellectual property law firm at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.