The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) annual Special 301 Report highlights improvements in and concerns about the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).
“I am pleased to congratulate the governments of Spain and Malaysia on the progress that resulted in their removal from the Special 301 Lists,” said USTR Ron Kirk in a prepared statement accompanying the report’s April 30 release. “On the other hand, I call on the government of Ukraine to address the serious concerns that have caused us to put Ukraine back on the Priority Watch List.”
In the report, USTR announced Malaysia has been removed from the watch list after it made significant strides, including enacting legislation that strengthens copyright protection, increasing IPR enforcement and adopting regulations to protect pharmaceutical test data.
Spain also has been removed from the watch list because it adopted regulations implementing a law to combat piracy over the Internet.
Ukraine is being moved from the Watch List to the Priority Watch List because of serious and growing concerns relating to counterfeiting and rampant piracy, including piracy over the Internet.
USTR’S YEARLY IPR REVIEW
The Special 301 Report presents an annual review of the global state of IPR protection and enforcement that USTR conducts pursuant to Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.
USTR, which reviewed 77 trading partners for the 2012 Special 301 Report, placed 40 countries on the Priority Watch List, Watch List or the Section 306 monitoring list.
The Priority Watch List lists U.S. trading partners that 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. These countries will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.
Twenty-seven trading partners are on the Watch List, which means USTR found they merit bilateral attention to address underlying IPR problems. Those nations include Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY A KEY ECONOMIC DRIVER
A recently issued Commerce Department report entitled Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus identifies the economic sectors that generate IP, as well as the jobs, exports,and wage premiums those sectors support.
The study shows that IP is a key driver of the U.S. economy: IP-intensive industries create 27.1 million jobs and indirectly support another 12.9 million jobs. All told, nearly 30 percent of all U.S. jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to IP-intensive industries.
USTR said it would continue its efforts to ensure that global consumers have access in overseas markets to U.S. exports of IPR-intensive products. The office said it will continue to advance a robust IPR chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations; will ensure U.S. trade agreements are properly implemented; and will use the Special 301 process, as well as bilateral engagement, to enhance IPR protection and enforcement abroad.
The complete Special 301 Report is available on the USTR website.