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WTO Rules For Antigua In Online Gambling

If you like David and Goliath stories, the ongoing saga of Antigua’s battle with the US over online gambling is one you’ll relish.   The tiny Caribbean island, which gains a lot ofits revenue from online gambling, has already won victories against the US at the World Trade Organization over the issue. The US has greatly restricted online gambling, which Antigua asserts breaksa free trade agreement.   Recently the WTO arbitrators agreed and approved a landmark idea. Since Antigua can’t really put sanctions up against US goodand services, they could suspend their obligations to intellectual property rights.   In other words, the island can take things like US software, which would normally be protected by copyright,and sell them without their protection. Under the arbitrator’s ruling, their trade loss is estimated at $21 million, slightly more than the $500,000 the US estimated, but a lot less than the$3.4 billion Antigua claimed. The panel reached the figure by basing it on compliance with US law.   However, Mark Mendel, the attorney for Antigua in the case and the person who came up withthe idea of appropriating US intellectual property as a punishment, wasn’t happy at the figure.   "What appears to have been done here is assuming a form of compliance that has nothappened and probably will not happen without giving Antigua the ability to contest the method under the WTO’s normal procedures," he said in a statement. But he did call the suspension ofintellectual property rights “a very potent weapon.”   But one, no doubt, that Antigua will use.

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