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USTR Holds Public Hearing on Section 301 Investigation of Ukraine

USTR Holds Public Hearing on Section 301 Investigation of Ukraine 

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) conducted a public hearing as part of the ongoing Section 301 investigation into particular intellectual property rights (IPR) policies and practices in Ukraine.  This investigation was initiated after the designation of Ukraine as a Priority Foreign Country (PFC) in the annual “Special 301” Report.  

Mr. Mykola Kovinya, the chairman of the State Intellectual Property Service of Ukraine, and Mr. Oleg Voloshyn, Senior Advisor to Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, testified on behalf of the Government of Ukraine.  Mr. Eric Schwartz testified on behalf of the International Intellectual Property Alliance. 

“Today’s public hearing was a continuation of the Administration’s unwavering commitment to supporting critical jobs and exports in IPR-intensive industries,” said Ambassador Michael Froman.  “I welcome Ukraine’s recognition of the importance of adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights in today’s testimony, and call on Ukraine to address fully the problems that are the focus of this investigation.” 

BACKGROUND 

The public hearing, which was held by the interagency Section 301 Committee, concerned the Section 301 investigation of the intellectual property acts, policies, and practices of Ukraine that resulted in the designation of Ukraine as a PFC in the May 1, 2013 Special 301 Report.   The “Special 301” Report is the annual review by USTR of the global state of IPR protection and enforcement.  The PFC designation is reserved for countries with the most egregious IPR-related acts, policies and practices with the greatest adverse impact on relevant U.S. products, and that are not entering into good faith negotiations or making significant progress in negotiations to provide adequate and effective IPR protection. 

The specific grounds for the identification of Ukraine as a PFC are: (1) the unfair, nontransparent administration of the system for collecting societies, which are responsible for collecting and distributing royalties to U.S. and other rights holders; (2) widespread use of infringing software by Ukrainian government agencies; and (3) failure to implement an effective and systemic means to combat the widespread online infringement of copyright and related rights in Ukraine.

Through public notice, interested persons were invited to submit written comments and to participate in today’s public hearing on the following matters:  (1) the acts, policies, and practices of the Government of Ukraine that are the subject of the investigation; (2) the amount of burden or restriction on U.S. commerce caused by these acts, policies, and practices; (3) whether the acts, policies, and practices of Ukraine are actionable under section 301(b) of the Trade Act; and (4) if so, what action the U.S. Trade Representative should take under section 301(b). 

Written comments and rebuttal comments are due by Monday, September 23, 2013.  The requirements for written submissions are set out in the June 5, 2013 Federal Register notice, Identification of Ukraine as a Priority Foreign Country and Initiation of Section 301 Investigation, 78 FR 33886. 

Notices and submissions related to today’s hearing can be found online at www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2013-0023.

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