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WTO agrees Antigua and Barbuda can ignore US IP rights

The Carribean nation of Antigua and Barbuda has received international authorisation to suspend all American-owned IP rights within its borders in retaliation for US regulations against off-shore online gambling

Antigua will now be able to open up its own internationally-approved pirate site featuring American music, movies and software.

The sanction comes after Antigua won its case against the US at the World Trade Organization (WTO), convincing global authorities that the US campaign violated its WTO commitments. The Antiguan government has not yet announced when the suspension, which has WTO approval, will begin.

In a statement, Antigua's Finance Minister Harold Lovell said the country’s economy had been “devastated” by US restrictions on online gambling. The Antiguan government claims that at its peak, the industry employed over 4,000 workers – around 5% of its 81,000-strong population - and was worth over $3.4 billion, but has since shrunk to less than 500 people because of the US campaign.

Antigua and the US have been negotiating for 10 years in an unsuccessful effort to find a solution to the dispute. Antiguan officials said the decision to suspend US IP rights was not lightly taken, and came after “countless” Antiguan proposals were “more or less ignored by the Office of the USTR”.

Nkenge Harmon, a spokeswoman for the USTR, said that the US had proposed solutions, but that Antigua has “repeatedly stymied these negotiations with certain unrealistic demands”.

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