WASHINGTON - The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative today
released its "Special 301" annual report on the adequacy and effectiveness of
intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in trading partners around the world. The
report found that although several countries have taken positive steps to improve
their IPR regimes, the lack of IPR protection and enforcement continues to be a global
problem. The report calls for certain governments to take stronger actions to combat
commercial piracy and counterfeiting.
"Americans are the world’s leading innovators, and our ideas and
intellectual property are a key ingredient to our competitiveness and prosperity. The
United States places a high priority on effective intellectual property protection of
American creativity," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick. "We are encouraged
by the positive steps that several countries have taken to strengthen IPR protection
over the past year. However, the need for significant improvement remains,
particularly in the areas of implementation and enforcement. This report sends a message to
governments on this year's list that it is important to exercise the political will
necessary to effectively address IP-related concerns."
"This report also reflects our commitment to promoting increased
intellectual property protection through a variety of other mechanisms, such as
implementation of TRIPS and the negotiations within our free trade agreements," added
The report notes the improvements and progress that several
countries have made in addressing IPR-related concerns identified in previous Special 301
Reports. For example, Poland and the Philippines have recently passed optical
disc legislation that will help combat optical media piracy. Romania recently took a
significant step in ensuring procurement of legitimate software for use by government
ministries. Lebanon, Malaysia, Poland and Taiwan have begun to increase enforcement
measures. A list of positive developments for IPR protection over the past year is
attached to the report.
However, ineffective enforcement of intellectual property rights,
commercial piracy - in particular the growing problem of pirate production of optical
media such as CDs, DVDs and CD-ROMs, and counterfeiting of consumer products continue to
be a global threat. Counterfeit products, from auto parts to medicines, harm the owner
of the property right, and can also cause serious health and safety problems for
consumers. Rampant piracy and lack of IPR enforcement continue to persist in Ukraine,
Paraguay, Brazil, Russia, Kuwait, Pakistan and other trading partners. The United States
also remains concerned over the lack of adequate protection for test data submitted by
drug companies to health authorities in countries such as Israel and Turkey. The TRIPS
Agreement requires that such data be protected against disclosure and unfair commercial
Addressing IPR enforcement problems in China is one of the
Administration's top priorities. China recently made several commitments during the
Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) meetings to take actions aimed at
achieving a significant reduction in IPR infringement. This year's report announces an
out-of-cycle review for China in early 2005 to evaluate China's implementation of its
stated commitments and its overall progress on improving enforcement and significantly
reducing IPR infringement.
In addition, this year's report notes the importance of
understanding how the regulatory regimes in certain countries, along with their IP systems, affect
innovation and R&D in innovative industries. Congress has directed the Administration to
examine and prepare a report on regulatory practices, intellectual property laws and
other measures in the pharmaceutical industry. This report, together with the ongoing
analysis of global IP protection through the Special 301 process, should provide a
better understanding of the impact that regulatory and IP regimes have on innovation and the
development of the next generation of lifesaving drugs. The Special 301 Report takes
its name from Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.
This year's Special 301 Report lists 52 countries or economies as
Priority Foreign Countries, Priority Watch List (PWL), Watch List (WL) or Section
Priority Foreign Countries are those pursuing the most onerous or
egregious policies that have the greatest adverse impact on U.S. right holders or
products, and are subject to accelerated investigations and possible sanctions. Ukraine
continues to be listed as a Priority Foreign Country.
Countries or economies on the PWL do not provide an adequate level
of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on
intellectual property protection. This year's report lists fifteen trading partners on the PWL.
Priority Watch List countries or economies include Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Egypt, EU,
India, Indonesia, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan,
Thirty-four trading partners are placed on the WL, meriting
bilateral attention to address the underlying IPR problems. Watch List countries or economies
include Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hungary, Israel, Italy,
Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Romania, Saudi
Arabia, Slovak Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Uzbekistan,
Venezuela, and Vietnam.
In addition to the fifty described above, China and Paraguay, due
to their serious IP-related problems are subject to another part of the statute, Section 306
monitoring, because of previous bilateral agreements reached with the United
States to address specific problems raised in earlier reports.
This year’s Special 301 Report also announced the following five
out-of-cycle reviews: Israel in the summer; Malaysia, Poland and Taiwan in the fall; and
China in early 2005.