US releases global report on intellectual property protection

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The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released its annual “Special 301” Report, providing its assessment of the countries with the worst records of intellectual property violations. The Report identifies 11 countries on the “Priority Watch List”: Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The USTR plans on working closely with the governments of the identified countries to address emerging and continuing intellectual property concerns.

Most countries that were identified in this year’s Report were also included in last year’s report. In China, for example, the Report explains that although the Chinese government has made substantial intellectual property improvements since last year, rampant trade secret theft, piracy, and counterfeiting continue to undermine any positive development. India has also reappeared on the list, despite the government’s positive steps to address intellectual property rights.

Ecuador and Pakistan, on the other hand, were downgraded from the “Priority Watch List” to the less severe “Watch List”. Ecuador has since made legislative amendments to reinstate criminal penalties for large-scale counterfeiting. Pakistan has shown a “new found determination” to protect intellectual property in the country, including the establishment of specialized IP tribunals.    

Switzerland was added to this year’s “Watch List” based on increased difficulties with copyright protection and online piracy within the country.

More detailed information can be found in the official report.

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