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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Special 301 Report

02/21/2013 - 9:00am

The Weekly Trade Spotlight for this week focuses on the Special 301 Report, which reflects the Administration’s resolve to effectively protect and enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) worldwide.

The interagency Special 301 Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, which produces the annual Special 301 Report on intellectual property, held a public hearing yesterday to gather information from public, private, and non-profit sector stakeholders as it prepares the 2013 Special 301 Report. The Special 301 Subcommittee, which is chaired by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and includes representatives from the Departments of State, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture, as well as the Patent and Trademark Office, Copyright Office, and Council of Economic Advisors, is tasked with reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of IPR. The Special 301 Report highlights the United States’ concerns about the protection and enforcement of IPR around the globe – an issue that directly affects an estimated 27 million American jobs in intellectual property-intensive industries, according to a 2012 report by the Department of Commerce.

Interagency Special 301 Committee
Members of the interagency Special 301 Subcommittee listen to testimony from government
representatives, stakeholder organizations, and private sector groups.

Yesterday’s hearing, at which the subcommittee heard testimony from the Governments of the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Paraguay, Mexico and Italy, and from the International Intellectual Property Organization, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center, and from Health Global Access Project and Knowledge Ecology International among others, was part of an ongoing USTR effort to give interested persons an opportunity to inform the interagency Special 301 Subcommittee of issues relevant to the review. The witnesses’ testimony, which will help to inform and shape the Special 301 report, touched on a wide variety of IPR issues, including piracy over the Internet, IPR enforcement, and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

The Special 301 review process involves consultations with interested parties and foreign governments on often complex IP issues, and information provided in the public hearing and through written public comments helps to facilitate sound, well-balanced assessments of developments in particular countries. Public submissions in the ongoing 2013 Special 301 review can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2012-0022. A transcript of yesterday’s hearing will be posted on the USTR website when it is available.

In addition to its release of the annual Special 301 Report at the end of April, USTR conducts year-round engagement to advance the goals of the Special 301 process. On Thursday, December 13, 2012, USTR released the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. Previously included in the annual Special 301 Report, the Notorious Market List was released separately as part of USTR’s commitment to increase public awareness of Internet and physical markets that exemplify the challenge of combatting piracy and counterfeiting around the globe.

Public submissions for the Notorious Markets list can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov, Docket number USTR-2012-0011.