Antigua to Sell US Intellectual Property in Fight Over Online Gaming

In the battle between the United States and the international community over the online gambling issue, the small country of Antigua has gained a significant advantage from the World Trade Organization. The WTO is allowing Antigua to sell the intellectual property of US companies without compensating the creators of the works, effectively suspending US copyright and intellectual property rights in Antigua.

This would allow Antigua to create a service that sells music, movies, TV shows and other works made by US companies or artists, for up to $ 21 million a year. It appears that the Caribbean country is already working on a website to implement this plan. Whether they see this as a way to leverage the United States in legalizing online gambling, or whether they intend to move forward with the plan to sell copyrighted materials is still unclear.

What is clear is that the US government is vehemently opposed to the plan, calling it theft and government-authorized piracy. However, the WTO granted Antigua this right once it recognized that the United States was violating WTO regulations by not allowing Antigua-based online gambling organizations to accept American customers. When the United States violated a free trade agreement, nearly 90,000 people were laid off due to the closure of Antigua’s gambling industry.

Article 22.3 of the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Understanding allows nations that suffer losses due to breach of a WTO agreement to retaliate under a different agreement, if it is not practicable or effective to proceed with retaliation under the original agreement. This means that Antigua could raise tariffs or tariffs on American goods, but the amount of trade the United States does with the country is so small that this would not be an effective remedy.

Instead, Antigua is using the Trade Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement to enforce its claim against the United States. The WTO has in the past granted relief under this article, but no country has ever implemented a system to act accordingly. Antigua is pursuing its plan due to its inability to negotiate with the United States up to this point.

The United States has only two options left in this dispute. They can comply with the order, allowing Antigua to create its own intellectual property portal; or they can negotiate with the nation and start allowing online betting in some form. A less likely, though still potential option is an American invasion of Antigua. While this may seem far-fetched, the United States invaded Grenada just a few decades ago. However, if Antigua implements the plan incorrectly, the US can report the case to the WTO, although this is an even less likely scenario.

This case could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and forces the US government to change its stance on legalized online poker, sports betting and other gambling-related issues. Some states are already starting to take the lead, with Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and others legalizing some form of online gambling or considering legalizing betting on sporting events. The federal government, however, has opposed such measures nationwide, but the sale of a US company’s intellectual property could force a change in policy in the near future.