Two of the more contentious areas in the IP area relate to copyright and pharmaceuticals.For example, current patent law allows drug companies a monopoly on drugs they have created for a defined period, meaning other companies are not allowed to copy and sell the drug formulations as “generics” for that period. This is considered reasonable as it rewards the company for the initial research investment, which can be costly. Once the patent period ends, cheaper drugs flood the market, bringing down the price for consumers.Yet the text would suggest that the agreement could extend the patents. If Australia agrees to an extension of patents, the government would allow drug companies to keep the price inflated for a longer period, making the drug less affordable.The US and Japan, the largest holders of intellectual property, have been keen to pursue stronger laws for breaches of copyright, including criminal penalties for non-commercial copyright infringements. That could cover internet downloads of television shows or music, where people do not make any money out of the product.The leaked document suggests that opposition among the smaller countries to criminal penalties for non-commercial breaches is waning.
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