A significant part of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement ratified by the U.S. Congress on October 12, 2011, is a chapter relating to intellectual property rights. Among other matters, the agreement calls on the parties to “establish a framework for cooperation between their respective patent offices as a basis for progress toward mutual exploitation of search and examination work.” It also includes terms relating to making patents available for any invention, providing patent applicants with at least one opportunity to amend or correct their applications, not allowing third-party oppositions to pending patent applications, making civil judicial procedures available to enforce IP rights, and establishing requirements for criminal prosecution of counterfeiting and piracy.

The agreement addresses biosimilar pharmaceutical products by requiring that the signatories may not “authorize another to market a same or a similar product based on: (i) the new clinical information submitted in support of the marketing approval; or (ii) evidence of the marketing approval based on the new clinical information, for at least three years from the date of marketing approval in the territory of the Party.” Ten years of protection are accorded new uses for agricultural chemical products previously approved. The free trade agreements Congress approved with Columbia and Panama also contain IP provisions.