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USTR Issues 2008 Special 301 Report

 


 


Report Highlights Shortfalls in
Intellectual
Property Protection, Acknowledges Progress by Some U.S.
Trading Partners

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released its
annual “Special 301” Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual
property rights (IPR) protection by U.S. trading partners.  


“The Special 301
Report spotlights one of the central challenges facing the global economy,” said
Ambassador Susan C. Schwab. “Pirates and counterfeiters don’t just steal ideas;
they steal jobs, and too often they threaten our health and safety.  The
Administration has been committed to stepping up the fight against IPR
infringers who seek to profit from American artists, inventors, and
entrepreneurs.”


As the United
States confronts international piracy,
counterfeiting, and other forms of IPR theft, the Special 301 Report constitutes
a critical policy tool for focusing on urgent problems including the growing
problem of Internet piracy and the counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and other
products that threaten the health and safety of consumers around the
world.  The Report provides a basis for constructive engagement with
U.S. trading partners in
order to address these challenges, particularly in key countries such as
China and Russia. 


“We continue to work
with our Chinese and Russian colleagues to ensure that they deliver on their
commitments to improve intellectual property protection and enforcement,” said
Schwab.


“Our bilateral
engagement with China,
Russia and other trading partners
complement our efforts to enforce our rights through the WTO.  The
Administration will continue to defend vigorously American innovation,” stated
Schwab.  “U.S. leadership remains
critical to improving the global IPR climate.” 


Continuing
Concerns in China and Russia


Again this year,
USTR’s Special 301 Report highlights serious IPR concerns with respect to
China and Russia, in spite of some
evidence of improvement in both countries. 


China


USTR announced that
it will once again retain China on the Priority Watch List and continue
monitoring China under
Section 306 of the 1974 Trade Act, thus maintaining pressure on China
to improve its IPR situation.  While the United
States continues to seek cooperative channels to
work with China to strengthen that
country’s IPR regime, high levels of copyright piracy and trademark
counterfeiting remain serious concerns.  At the same time, the
United States is also using
the WTO dispute settlement process to address a number of specific deficiencies
in China’s IPR regime.
 


Russia


The Administration
also continues to work for improvements to the intellectual property regime in
Russia.  Although
Russia has made some progress – for
example, in moving optical disc factories off of government-controlled sites and
raiding unlicensed factories – large-scale production and distribution of
IP-infringing optical media and Internet piracy remain significant problems that
require more enforcement action.  The United
States will continue to monitor to ensure that
Russia moves to implement a
variety of legal and law enforcement improvements to which it committed as part
of a bilateral agreement with the United
States on Russia’s accession to the WTO. 
Implementation of these commitments remains essential to completing the final
multilateral negotiations on the overall accession package.


Improvements
Noted for Several Trading Partners


In addition to
flagging prominent intellectual property concerns of U.S. trade policy, the Special 301 Report also
provides an opportunity to recognize trading partners whose efforts to improve
intellectual property protection and enforcement are delivering results both for
home-grown innovators in those countries and for U.S.
right holders.  Egypt, Lebanon,
Turkey, and Ukraine are being moved to
the Watch List (from Priority Watch List), reflecting improvements in each
country’s IPR regime.  Two other trading partners – Belize
and Lithuania – are being
removed from the Special 301 Report altogether.


Background


This year’s Special
301 Report places forty-six (46) countries on the Priority Watch List, Watch
List, or the Section 306 monitoring list.


There are nine (9)
countries on this year’s Priority Watch List: China, Russia, Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela.  Countries on the
Priority Watch List do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or
enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property
protection, in absolute terms and/or relative
to a range of factors such as their level of development.  Priority Watch
List countries will be the subject of particularly intense engagement through
bilateral discussion during the coming year.


Thirty-six (36)
trading partners are on the lower level Watch List, meriting bilateral attention
to address IPR problems:  Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada,
Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt,
Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania,
Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine,
Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. 


The Administration
will conduct Out-of-Cycle Reviews for Taiwan and Israel
to assess progress on specific IPR issues. 


Canada has taken some significant steps in the past
year and, given the importance of the outstanding issues and maturity of its
economy, we look forward to additional action in the coming months on the IP
reforms identified as key priorities by the Government of
Canada.


Paraguay will continue to be subject to Section 306
monitoring under a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding that establishes
objectives and actions for addressing IPR concerns in that country.  


The implementation
of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) negotiated with the United
States constitutes an important element in IPR
improvements.  FTA partner countries have undertaken important improvements
in IPR legal frameworks in keeping with the obligations reflected in the
FTAs.  Our most recent FTAs also reflect these high standards and we
welcome the commitments made to improve intellectual property protection and
enforcement by future FTA trading partners, including Colombia, Panama and Korea.  


On October 23, 2007,
United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab announced that the U.S.
Government will seek to negotiate an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
(ACTA).  This is a new and dynamic effort to combat the challenges of
counterfeiting and piracy today.  The ACTA is envisioned as a leadership
effort among trading partners that will raise the international standard for IPR
enforcement. 


Despite some
encouraging developments, the detailed country discussions in the Special 301
Report make clear that numerous IPR problems persist around the world. 
Trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals continues to be a particularly grave
concern in light of the risks to human health and safety, and the United
States continues to be actively engaged in
addressing this serious problem.  The United
States will also remain focused on combating
large-scale piracy of optical media and the widespread counterfeiting of
trademark-protected consumer and industrial goods.


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