WASHINGTON – The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released its 2022 Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights.
“Intellectual property-intensive industries support more than 60 million jobs – from the independent inventor just starting out to the documentary filmmaker studying critical social issues. We need robust protection and enforcement in foreign countries to protect these individuals, their livelihoods, and ensure they can fairly compete in the global marketplaces,” Ambassador Katherine Tai said. “Following extensive input from a broad range of stakeholders, the 2022 Special 301 Report identifies trading partners that are falling short. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to engage with these trading partners to level the playing field for our workers and businesses.”
The 2022 Special 301 Report can be viewed here.
This annual report details USTR’s findings of more than 100 trading partners after significant research and enhanced engagement with stakeholders. Key elements of the 2022 Special 301 Report include:
The Special 301 review of Ukraine has been suspended due to Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
USTR will conduct an Out-of-Cycle Review of Bulgaria to assess whether Bulgaria makes material progress on addressing deficiencies in its investigation and prosecution of online piracy cases, particularly its failure to adopt evidence sampling in criminal cases.
The 2022 Special 301 review period took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest global health crisis in more than a century. The Biden-Harris Administration supports a waiver of IP protections for COVID-19 vaccines under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). USTR is working hard to facilitate an outcome on IP that can achieve consensus across the 164 Members of the WTO to help end the pandemic. The United States will continue to engage with WTO Members as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive effort to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.
The United States is closely monitoring China’s progress in implementing its commitments under the United States-China Economic and Trade Agreement (Phase One Agreement). In 2021, China enacted amendments to the Patent Law, Copyright Law, and Criminal Law, as well as other measures aimed at addressing IP protection and enforcement. While right holders have welcomed these developments, they continue to raise concerns about the adequacy of these measures and their effective implementation, as well as about long-standing issues like bad faith trademarks, counterfeiting, and online piracy. Also, statements by Chinese officials that tie IP rights to Chinese market dominance continue to raise strong concerns.
Several trading partners continued to advance IP protection and enforcement by enacting major legal reforms and joining international IP treaties. For example, the United Arab Emirates enacted new Industrial Property, Trademark, Copyright, and Cyber Crime laws in 2021. Chile’s amendment to its Industrial Property Law took effect in January 2022. Japan’s Trademark Act amendments came into force in April 2022. Kiribati, Uganda, and Vietnam acceded to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty and the WIPO Copyright Treaty, collectively known as the WIPO Internet Treaties.
Concerns with the European Union’s aggressive promotion of its exclusionary geographical indications (GI) policies persist. The United States continues its intensive engagement in promoting and protecting access to foreign markets for U.S. exporters of products that are identified by common names or otherwise marketed under previously registered trademarks. The United States is also concerned about the transfer of much of the GI application review process to EU Member States and the reduction of time periods for opposing registration of a GI that is part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, adopted in 2021 and entering into force in 2023.
The report also highlights progress made by our trading partners to resolve and address IP issues of concern to the United States:
Kuwait is removed from the Watch List this year for making continued and significant progress on concerns that stakeholders identified with IP enforcement and transparency. For example, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Copyright Office each created online portals for streamlining the submission of trademark and copyright violation reports, respectively. Kuwait also increased engagement and transparency through meetings of the United States-Kuwait Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Intellectual Property Working Group.
Saudi Arabia is removed from the Priority Watch List this year due to steps the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property took to publish its IP enforcement procedures; increase enforcement against counterfeit and pirated goods and online pirated content; create specialized IP enforcement courts with trained judges and expedited timelines; conduct strong IP awareness, outreach, training, and support; set up a centralized committee to coordinate IP enforcement actions across multiple authorities; and train IP specialists in 76 different authorities to increase government compliance with IP laws.
Romania is removed from the Watch List this year due to taking significant actions to improve IP protection and enforcement. These actions include the appointment of its first-ever national IP enforcement coordinator, establishment of a new department of the economic police dedicated to online piracy cases, dedication of additional officers to IP investigations, and the General Prosecutor Office Intellectual Property Coordination Department’s resumed coordination of IP working group sessions.
Lebanon is removed from the Watch List this year. Stakeholders have not raised significant concerns about IP protection or enforcement during the Special 301 review.
The “Special 301” Report is an annual review of the global state of IP protection and enforcement. USTR conducts this review 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 reviewed more than one hundred (100) trading partners for this year’s Special 301 Report, and placed twenty-seven (27) of them on the Priority Watch List or Watch List. The Special 301 review of Ukraine has been suspended due to Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
In this year’s Report, trading partners on the Priority Watch List present the most significant concerns this year regarding insufficient IP protection or enforcement or actions that otherwise limited market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection. Seven countries — Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and Venezuela — are on the Priority Watch List. These countries will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.
Twenty trading partners are on the Watch List, and merit bilateral attention to address underlying IP problems: Algeria, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
In addition, Out-of-Cycle Reviews provide an opportunity to address and remedy such issues through heightened engagement and cooperation with trading partners and other stakeholders. USTR announced an Out-of-Cycle Review of Bulgaria.
USTR continued its enhanced approach to public engagement activities in this year’s Special 301 process. USTR requested written submissions from the public through a notice published in the Federal Register on December 13, 2021 (Federal Register notice). In addition, due to COVID-19, USTR fostered public participation via written submissions rather than an in-person hearing with the interagency Special 301 Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) sending written questions about issues relevant to the review to those that submitted written comments, including to representatives of foreign governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations. USTR posted the written questions and the written responses online at www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2021-0021.
The Federal Register notice drew submissions from 44 non-government stakeholders and 18 foreign governments. The submissions filed in response to the Federal Register notice are available to the public online at www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2021-0021.