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U.S. Rates Intellectual Property Protections of Trading Partners
May 7, 2013

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative examined IPR protection and enforcement of 95 U.S. trading partners for the report.

May 3,  2013

In an annual report on the adequacy of the intellectual property rights protections of U.S. trading partners, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) cites ongoing problems in Ukraine and praises improvements in Canada.

The Special 301 Report presents an annual review of the global state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement that USTR conducts under 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. The 2013 Special 301 review process examined IPR protection and enforcement in 95 trading partners, USTR said. Among the highlights in the 2013 report, released May 1, are the following:

• The U.S. Trade Representative designates Ukraine a Priority Foreign Country under the Special 301 statute because of severe deterioration of enforcement in the areas of government use of pirated software and piracy over the Internet, as well as denial of fair and equitable market access through the authorization and operation of copyright collecting societies. The report says Ukraine has recognized that it has a significant problem with the operation of these illegal or “rogue” collecting societies — organizations that collect royalties by falsely claiming they are authorized to do so. “The government has not prosecuted several rogue collecting societies —- even societies that the Government of Ukraine determined were collecting money without the necessary authorization,” the report says.

• USTR reports grave concerns about misappropriation of trade secrets in China and incremental progress on a few of China’s other significant IPR and market access challenges.

• Canada moves from the Special 301 Priority Watch List to the Watch List in recognition of significant progress on copyright issues, while USTR continues to work with Canada to address several remaining IPR concerns.

• Brunei Darussalam and Norway move off of the Special 301 Watch List.

• USTR adds Barbados, Bulgaria, Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago to the Watch List because of specific problems identified in the report.

• USTR announces that while El Salvador and Spain are not listed in the report, USTR will conduct out-of-cycle reviews to assess progress on IPR challenges identified in the 2013 reviews of those countries.

“I regret that the government of Ukraine has earned the first new Priority Foreign Country designation in 11 years due to its severely deteriorating climate for IPR protection and market access, and call upon that government to reverse recent backsliding and swiftly resolve the problems identified today,” acting USTR Demetrios Marantis said. “I am encouraged that other countries, notably Canada, have made long-awaited progress on concerns identified in past reports; I hope that Canada will sustain and build upon that progress, and that other listed countries will make similar progress.”

USTR designated Ukraine as a Priority Foreign Country in the 2013 report as a trading partner whose acts, policies or practices have the greatest adverse impact (actual or potential) on the relevant U.S. products, USTR said. In addition, Ukraine is not entering into good faith negotiations or making significant progress in bilateral or multilateral negotiations, USTR added.

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 intellectual property protection. Ten countries — Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela — are on the Priority Watch List. USTR will seek to engage intensively with these countries, as appropriate, during the coming year.

Thirty trading partners are on the Watch List, also meriting bilateral attention to address underlying IPR problems: Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The full version of the 301 Special Report (PDF, 572KB), is available on the USTR website.