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Last week, China amended a draft of a proposed foreign-investment law in an effort to address global concern over forced technology transfers.  The new law, which bans officials from divulging corporate secrets, was approved by the Chinese legislature on Friday.  The amendments were made shortly before the law was put to a vote and are

U.S. Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Fred Upton (R-MI) on Wednesday introduced legislation (H.R. 1710) that would preclude President Trump from imposing  Section 232 tariffs on imported automobiles and automotive parts until the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) conducts “a study of the economic well-being, health, and vitality of the United States auto-motive

On January 15, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) revoked McDonald’s registered trademark, “Big Mac.”   The name “Big Mac” had been protected in the EU for more than 20 years under international classes 29, 30, and 42 for foods, sandwiches, and services of franchise restaurants, respectively.  Trademarks, which provide legal protections for names, among other things, can be extremely valuable assets for businesses and protect consumers in their purchasing decisions.  The January 15 decision will likely create some concern, if not confusion, for international businesses in how they might protect their brands in major markets.  McDonald’s quickly announced that it plans to appeal the decision, which is set against a backdrop of US-EU trade negotiations and a recent increased focus on intellectual property in trade negotiations.

In its decision, EUIPO found that the evidence McDonald’s provided to prove the genuine use of the name “Big Mac” in the EU, including websites, posters, packing, and affidavits from company representatives in Germany, France, and the UK, was not sufficient.   EUIPO said about the websites, “it could not be concluded whether, or how, a purchase could be made or an order could be placed.”  In addition, the regulating body took issue with brochures because there had been no evidence provided as to whom the brochures were given or how they were dispersed.  The administrative decision also discussed that although some evidence was provided of use, McDonald’s did not prove the extent of use of its mark.

The case to cancel the international fast food giant’s protection was brought by an Irish fast food chain, Supermac’s.  Patrick McDonagh, the managing director of Supermac’s, stated that the intention of the case was to “shine a light on the use of trademark bullying.” 
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On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted 571-to-53 to ban certain single use plastic items from the EU by 2021.  The legislation is aimed at reducing marine pollution and was drafted in May 2018 by the European Commission.  The Commission estimates that more than 80 percent of marine litter is plastics and that the items considered

On October 17, President Trump announced that the United States may withdraw from a 144-year-old international postal agreement.

The Universal Postal Union (“UPU”), established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is an agency of the United Nations that facilitates postal cooperation between governments and regulates cross-border traffic of international mail.

The Trump Administration fears that U.S. businesses are disadvantaged by policies of the UPU that allow Chinese businesses to ship a variety of goods to the United States at “unfairly low prices.” The administration is also concerned that current policies of the UPU facilitate the shipping of counterfeit or otherwise illegal goods to the United States.

The UPU allows developing countries, including China, to ship small packages at lower rates than developed nations. The Trump Administration is seeking changes to the treaty that would allow countries to set their own rates for parcels weighing less than 4.4 lbs.  Under the current rules, small packages shipped from China to the U.S. are discounted between 40 and 70 percent.  It is estimated that subsidized rates for small packages from China cost the U.S. $300 million per year.
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On Sunday, the heads of state of Canada and the United States agreed on terms for a new trilateral deal with Mexico.  The agreement, now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement “USMCA,” provides several new updates to its NAFTA predecessor.  The deal’s terms, including those established in August in an agreement between the U.S. and

On Monday, August 27, President Trump announced that he intends to terminate NAFTA if discussions with Canada are not finalized by the end of the week.  This news follows the successful negotiation of an agreement in principle for trade between the U.S. and Mexico.  While, according to the USTR, the agreement provides the “most comprehensive set of enforceable environmental obligations of any previous United States agreement,” the deal also contains numerous provisions of note involving trade.

The agreement in principle is expected to contain a more robust intellectual property (“IP”) chapter than that of its NAFTA predecessor.  In fact, the USTR is calling the chapter the “most comprehensive” for enforcement of IP with any trade agreement to which the U.S. is a party.  In particular, among other provisions, enforcement authorities must be able to stop the entry or exit of goods that are suspected to be pirated or counterfeited, the countries must establish “meaningful” criminal penalties for the camcording of movies, the countries will require national treatment for copyright, and both countries will make available civil and criminal remedies for the theft of trade secrets. 
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The Wall Street Journal reported that the industry for recycled products is collapsing.  Until late last year, China was the largest importer of U.S. recyclables.  At the beginning of 2018, in a decision that many attribute to trade tensions between the U.S. and China, China imposed more stringent quality standards on imports of recycled material and ceased importing U.S. mixed paper and mixed plastic of any quality until June 4, 2018.   As a result of the harsher standards, the prices of scrap paper and plastic have plummeted.  While other countries, such as India and Vietnam, have imported some of the waste that would have been sent to China, there remain large amounts of unsold recycled material.
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