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United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk Announces Removal of Israel from Intellectual Property Rights Priority Watch List

September 24, 2012


Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that Israel is being removed from the Special 301 Priority Watch List. Special 301 is a provision of U.S. trade law under which the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) identifies countries that deny adequate and effective protection for intellectual property rights (IPR) with the objective of improving protection of IPR.

“I am pleased to announce today that the Government of Israel has taken important steps to improve protection for intellectual property rights in Israel and can now be removed from the Special 301 Priority Watch List,” said Ambassador Kirk. “Israel’s action reflects the commitment of both the United States and Israel to providing transparent, efficient and effective patent systems for innovative and generic medicine producers.”

Israel’s removal from the list is based on steps it has taken under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Israel signed in 2010. Under the MOU, which can be viewed at USTR’s website here, both governments agreed that Israel would introduce three laws to the Knesset to improve the country’s pharmaceutical patent regime. Israel has now introduced these laws, so the United States is moving Israel from the Priority Watch List to the Watch List. As called for in the MOU, the United States will remove Israel from the Special 301 Watch List once the three laws are enacted.

Under the Special 301 provisions, countries that have the most onerous or egregious acts, policies, or practices, which have the greatest adverse impact on relevant U.S. products must be designated as “Priority Foreign Countries.” In addition to this category of countries, USTR has created a “Priority Watch List” and a “Watch List to help monitor IPR and market access conditions in other countries.” 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, or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on IPR. The change of a trading partner’s status from Priority Watch List to Watch List signifies that the partner has made progress towards resolving problems that exist with respect these issues.

Attachments: Memorandum of Understanding