The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual Special 301 Report April 30 on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners' protection of intellectual property rights (IPR).
Significant elements of the 2014 Special 301 Report include:
• Growing concern about the environment for IPR protection and enforcement in India and other markets.
• Ongoing, serious concern about the protection and enforcement of trade secrets in China and emerging concerns in other markets.
• Removal of Italy and the Philippines from the Watch List in recognition of their IPR-related accomplishments, and as an indication of support for their commitment to continued progress.
• Music licensing and cable broadcasting concerns throughout the Caribbean that adversely affect U.S. copyright holders, including creators of original pay television programming, songwriters and other independent artists.
• Plans to conduct out-of-cycle reviews to promote engagement and progress on IPR challenges identified in this year's reviews of India, Kuwait, Paraguay and Spain.
"The United States is an innovation economy. We are the global leader in research and development," USTR's Michael Froman said in an April 30 press release. "We have given rise to some of the most creative, inventive and entrepreneurial businesses in the world, contributing significantly to advances in global health, the development of the digital economy and the education and entertainment of billions of people worldwide."
Noting that the release of the 2014 Special 301 Report marks 25 years since USTR published the first Special 301 fact sheet, Froman said the United States has "achieved dramatic changes in the international intellectual property landscape" since that time.
ANNUAL SUMMARY OF IPR PROTECTION WORLDWIDE
The Special 301 Report is an annual review of the global state of IPR protection and enforcement. USTR conducts this review under Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.
Ten countries — Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela — are on the Priority Watch List. These countries will be subject to particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year, according to USTR.
Twenty-seven trading partners are on the Watch List, which means they also merit bilateral attention to address underlying IPR problems. They include Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
The full text of the 2014 Special 301 Report is available on the USTR website.