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United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk Announces Conclusion of the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review for Saudi Arabia

02/24/2010

Washington, D.C. - The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today recognized Saudi Arabia's progress in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights by removing Saudi Arabia from the Special 301 Watch List.

"Saudi Arabia has made significant progress in improving protection for intellectual property rights during the past year," said Ambassador Ron Kirk. "Over the last several years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up its enforcement actions, strengthened its legal framework, and demonstrated a commitment to fostering innovation and creativity. This is a credit to the hard work done by Saudi Arabia as well as to our close bilateral cooperation."

The decision to remove Saudi Arabia from the Special 301 Watch List resulted from an "Out-of-Cycle Review" (OCR) announced last April in the 2009 Special 301 report. The review examined in detail the adequacy and effectiveness of IPR protection and enforcement in Saudi Arabia, with a focus on specific issues identified in the 2009 Special 301 Report.

The United States will continue to carefully monitor Saudi Arabia's progress in improving its IPR regime, including through the successful Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

BACKGROUND

In recognition of progress Saudi Arabia had made toward improving IPR protection and enforcement, the United States announced last April in the annual Special 301 Report that it would conduct an OCR in 2009. Today's decision to remove Saudi Arabia from the Watch List is the result of that OCR.

The review focused on three specific issues identified in the 2009 Special 301 Report: 1) deterrent level penalties for violations of Saudi copyright law, 2) action to reduce the use of unauthorized copies of software within the Saudi Government, and 3) adequate protection for patented pharmaceutical products. The OCR concluded that during 2009 Saudi Arabia made further progress on improving its overall IPR enforcement climate, including with respect to these three specific issues.

BACKGROUND ON SPECIAL 301

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 (enacted in 1994), under Special 301 provisions USTR must identify those countries that deny adequate and effective protection for IPR or deny fair and equitable market access for persons that rely on intellectual property protection. Countries that have the most onerous or egregious acts, policies, or practices and whose acts, policies, or practices have the greatest adverse impact (actual or potential) on relevant U.S. products must be designated as "Priority Foreign Countries."

USTR has created a "Priority Watch List" and a "Watch List" under the Special 301 provisions. Placement of a trading partner on the Priority Watch List or the Watch List indicates that particular problems exist in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property rights.