U.S. Removes Israel From Blacklist of Patent Violators

American drug makers had complained that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries was receiving too much protection.

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Israel has been removed from a U.S. government blacklist of countries that allegedly condone the violation of intellectual property rights, Washington announced over the weekend.

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Israel had been on the list for years, in part due to pressure from U.S. drug manufacturers contending that Israeli legislation let Teva Pharmaceutical Industries violate patents. Teva is the world’s largest maker of generic drugs.

Also, according to U.S. firms, Israel had not sufficiently enforced compact-disc copyright law.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday that Israel’s removal from the blacklist would boost its foreign trade. The announcement was made Friday by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. Negotiations between the two countries began in 2008.

On the Israeli side, the talks were handled by the Industry. Trade and Labor Ministry, now known as the Economy Ministry. The talks produced a memorandum of understanding in 2010 between the U.S. trade representative at the time, Ron Kirk, and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, then industry, trade and labor minister.

A number of ministries worked together to craft the legislation that got Israel off the list. Also, as a condition for joining the grouping of the world’s developed economies, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Israel had to change its intellectual property regime. Israel joined the OECD in 2010.

The Knesset passed the changes in 2011, and other patent legislation followed in July last year and January this year.

The director of the Economy Ministry’s foreign trade division, Ohad Cohen, said intellectual property was an important and sensitive subject that required “balance and proper management.” He stressed the importance of Israel’s research and development sector, which he noted was based in part on intellectual property rights.

A Teva lab technician. Intellectual property rights are important for Israeli R&D, too.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

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