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USTR Preparing Annual Report on Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has initiated its annual review of foreign countries’ acts, policies and practices concerning the protection of intellectual property rights. USTR 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 IPR protection. Trading partners placed on the PWL are the focus of increased bi-lateral attention concerning the problem areas.

The most recent USTR report placed 34 trading partners on the PWL of the WL. Trading partners currently on the  PWL are mainland China, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela, unchanged from a year earlier. Countries on the lower-level WL are Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guatemala, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. 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.

A public hearing in connection with this review will be held on 27 February in Washington, D.C. Comments and statements for the hearing are due by 8 February for interested parties other than foreign governments and 22 February for foreign governments. Post-hearing comments are due by 2 March.

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