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USTR Revises Dates in Annual Investigation of IPR Protection and Enforcement

USTR has revised the schedule for its annual review of foreign countries’ acts, policies and practices concerning the protection of intellectual property rights. The public hearing will now be held on 8 March rather than 28 February and post-hearing comments are due by 14 March rather than 3 March. Comments and statements for the hearing are still due by 9 February for interested parties other than foreign governments and 23 February for foreign governments. In addition, USTR still expects to issue its final report on or about 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.

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