- Published on Friday, 05 July 2013 08:20
- Written by Antigua Observer
ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua & Barbuda must move full speed ahead towards suspending United States intellectual property rights, if there is to be any hope in reaching a settlement in the decade long gaming dispute.
That’s according to the nation’s lawyer in the fight, Mark Mendel, who speaking on the ABS roundtable, said he expects the government to make a major announcement on the dispute in the coming days.
“We have to be prepared 100 per cent to actually suspend those intellectual property rights or there will be no negotiations, or if there are, they will be like all the others,” Mendel said.
The lawyer said the government is finalising a plan to implement sanctions within six months.
“There will be announcements forthcoming, but I do think there is a firm strategy that will have deliverables – things to measure and gauge your progress on,” the lawyer noted. “I think something will happen within days, but I can’t say for certain.”
In January, Antigua & Barbuda sought and received final approval from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to suspend US intellectual property rights to the tune of US $21 million, annually.
The measure was provided by the WTO as a way of increasing pressure on the US and Mendel explained, “it is not supposed to be an end in and of itself.
“It’s not a remedy, it’s not a solution, it’s not a settlement, and it’s not an award. It’s designed to bring that kind of pressure to force the other team to comply,” Mendel said.
He noted that while the government does not want to make use of the “temporary” measure, that route is the only way to achieve a negotiated solution.”
He said it’s important to achieve a solution given the multi-millions invested in the 10-year fight.
The lawyer, who revealed he wanted to pursue sanctions as early as 2007, said the US began to take notice of Antigua & Barbuda in January for the first time, and the momentum needs to be maintained.
The nation took its fight to the WTO in 2003 after the US banned its citizens from using online gaming services based here. In 2007 the WTO ruled in Antigua & Barbuda’s favour and told the US to remove the laws.
Antigua & Barbuda was given the right to suspend US intellectual property rights to the tune of US $21 million annually if the US did not comply.
Mendel said there have been strong signs that the US is beginning to listen now the country has made a move towards legal sanctions.