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Comments Sought on Annual IPR Report

USTR has initiated its annual review of foreign countries’ acts, policies and practices concerning the protection of intellectual property rights. The agency will hold a hearing and gather comments and plans to issue a report no later than 30 April.

Section 182 of the 1974 Trade Act, also known as Special 301, requires USTR to identify countries that deny adequate and effective IPR protection or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on IPR protection. Those countries that have the most onerous or egregious acts, policies or practices that have the greatest adverse impact (actual or potential) on relevant U.S. products are to be identified as priority foreign countries. Acts, policies or practices that are the basis of a country’s designation as a PFC can be subject to an investigation under the Section 301 provisions of the Trade Act.

USTR has also created a priority watch list and a watch list to assist policymakers in pursuing the goals of the Special 301 provisions. The placement of a trading partner on the PWL or WL indicates that particular problems exist in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement or market access for persons relying on intellectual property. Trading partners placed on the PWL are the focus of increased bi-lateral attention concerning the problem areas. USTR’s 2016 Special 301 report placed 11 U.S. trade partners on the PWL: mainland China, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela. An additional 23 countries were placed in the lower-level WL. Mainland China, Chile, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Turkey have been included on either the PWL or the WL every year since the report’s inception in 1989.

Comments are due by 9 February for interested parties other than foreign governments and 23 February for foreign governments. A public hearing will be held 28 February in Washington, D.C., and post-hearing comments are due by 3 March. Where relevant, submissions should mention particular regions, provinces, states or other subdivisions of a country whose acts, policies or practices are believed to deserve special attention. Submissions proposing countries for review should include data, loss estimates and other information regarding the economic impact on the United States, U.S. industry and the U.S. workforce caused by the denial of adequate and effective intellectual property protection.

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