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USTR Releases Annual Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Protection and Review of Notorious Markets for Piracy and Counterfeiting

04/25/2019

Washington, DC - The Office of the United States Trade Representative today released its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of trading partners’ protection of intellectual property rights and the findings of its Notorious Markets List, which highlights online and physical markets that reportedly engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.

Special 301 Report

The Special 301 Report identifies trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights.

Trading partners that currently present the most significant concerns regarding IP rights are placed on the Priority Watch List or Watch List. USTR identified 36 countries for these lists in the Special 301 Report:

  • Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela are on the Priority Watch List.
  • Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guatemala, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam are on the Watch List.

These trading partners will be the subject of increased bilateral engagement with USTR to address IP concerns. Specifically, over the coming weeks, USTR will review the developments against the benchmarks established in the Special 301 action plans for countries that have been on the Priority Watch List for multiple years. For such countries that fail to address U.S. concerns, USTR will take appropriate actions, such as enforcement actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act or pursuant to World Trade Organization or other trade agreement dispute settlement procedures, necessary to combat unfair trade practices and to ensure that trading partners follow through with their international commitments.

As part of the Special 301 review process, USTR invited public comments and held a public hearing that featured testimony from witnesses representing foreign governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations. USTR also offered a post-hearing comment period during which hearing participants could submit additional information.  

Click here to read the 2019 Special 301 public hearing transcript.

Click here to view the video recording of the 2019 Special 301 public hearing.

To read the Special 301 Report, click here.

Notorious Markets List

The Notorious Markets List highlights 33 online markets and 25 physical markets that are reported to engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. This activity harms the American economy by undermining the innovation and intellectual property rights of U.S. IP owners in foreign markets. An estimated 2.5 percent, or nearly half a trillion dollars’ worth, of global imports are counterfeit and pirated products.

The 2018 Notorious Markets List maintains its special focus on the distribution of pirated content and counterfeit goods online. This year, the Notorious Markets List highlights free trade zones and the role they may play in facilitating trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. It also continues to discuss emerging piracy models, including illicit streaming devices, “stream-ripping,” and piracy portals and apps, that cause major damage to the digital marketplace for legitimate music, movies, and television. The Notorious Markets List also calls on several e-commerce platforms to improve takedown procedures and cooperation with right holders—particularly small and medium-sized businesses—to decrease the volume and prevalence of counterfeit and pirated goods on their platforms.

The Notorious Markets List does not constitute an exhaustive list of all markets reported to deal in pirated or counterfeit goods around the world, nor does it reflect findings of legal violations or the U.S. Government’s analysis of the general IP protection and enforcement climate in the country concerned. This announcement concludes the 2018 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, which USTR initiated on August 16, 2018, through publication in the Federal Register of a request for public comments. The request for comments and the public’s responses is online at www.regulations.gov, Docket number USTR-2018-0027.

To read the Notorious Markets List, click here.

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