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US Issues Annual IPR Country Report

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

03 May 2012

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released its annual ‘Special 301 Report’ on the perceived adequacy and effectiveness of US trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).

“This year’s Special 301 Report is more significant than ever in light of recent US government data showing that IP intensive industries support as many as 40m American jobs and up to 60% of US exports,” USTR Ron Kirk stated. “When trading partners don’t protect IPR, they threaten those critical jobs and exports.”

The Report provides a means for the US to promote the protection and enforcement of IPR, and, over the past few years, has been said to have encouraged criticized governments to change course and adopt significantly improved IP regimes.

In the Report, for example, the USTR announced that Malaysia has been removed from the Report’s Watch List after making significant strides, including passing copyright amendments that strengthen copyright protection, stepped-up IPR enforcement, and promulgating regulations to protect pharmaceutical test data.

In addition, Spain has been removed from the Watch List because of its adoption of regulations implementing a law to combat piracy over the internet, while Ukraine has been moved to the Priority Watch List from the Watch List in light of serious and growing concerns relating to counterfeiting and piracy, including over the internet.

The USTR reviewed 77 trading partners for this year’s Report, and placed 40 countries on the Priority Watch List, Watch List, or the monitoring list.

Trading partners on the Priority Watch List present the most significant concerns regarding insufficient IPR protection or enforcement, or otherwise limited market access for persons relying on IPR protection. Thirteen countries – Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela – are on the Priority Watch List. It is intended that those countries will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.

On the other hand, twenty-seven trading partners are on the Watch List, also meriting bilateral attention to address underlying IPR problems - Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

The USTR confirmed that it will continue in its efforts to ensure that global consumers have access in overseas markets to US exports of IPR-intensive products. Among other things, the USTR “will continue to advance a robust IPR chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations; ensure that US trade agreements are properly implemented; and use the Special 301 process, as well as bilateral engagement, to enhance IPR protection and enforcement abroad”.

The US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) has praised the USTR for promoting effective intellectual property protection and enforcement around the globe through its Special 301 reporting.

“The Special 301 process is an important mechanism for policymakers to assess who is playing by the rules of the global trading system, and, more specifically, whether countries are adhering to their intellectual property obligations under trade agreements,” said Mark Elliot, executive vice president for the Chamber’s GIPC.

“Strong rules and effective enforcement regimes are an essential measure of the climate for companies small and large who wish to conduct business with foreign countries,” he pointed out. “We encourage Congress to work with the USTR and pass legislation requiring action plans for countries that include clear benchmarks to measure their performance and clear consequences for countries that fail to take action.”

TAGS: Pakistan | Russia | Turkmenistan | business | Brunei | Chile | India | Kuwait | Venezuela | law | intellectual property | copyright | trade treaty | Algeria | China | Colombia | Ecuador | Israel | Jamaica | Mexico | Norway | Philippines | Romania | Thailand | enforcement | agreements | internet | legislation | Belarus | Bolivia | Brazil | Canada | Costa Rica | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Egypt | Finland | Greece | Guatemala | Indonesia | Italy | Malaysia | Peru | Spain | United States | standards | regulation | trade | Argentina | Lebanon | Tajikistan | Turkey | Ukraine | Uzbekistan | Vietnam

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