The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released its annual Special 301 report, which evaluates the state of intellectual property rights protection worldwide. The report highlights the ongoing challenge that online content theft poses to the continued growth of American creative industries.
Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), commended the USTR for documenting the content theft and market access barriers that negatively impact American creative industries’ ability to compete in the global marketplace:
“This report highlights content theft and barriers in foreign markets that pose threats to the continued growth of US creative industries and the US economy. Strong copyright protection and enforcement are vital to our industry’s ability to create US jobs, grow our own economy, and expand US exports,” said Dodd. “We thank Ambassador Ron Kirk, the USTR and their colleagues across the interagency team who work tirelessly to enhance the protection of US intellectual property rights overseas.”
“This year’s Special 301 Report is more significant than ever in light of recent US Government data showing that IP intensive industries support as many as 40 million American jobs and up to 60 per cent of US exports. When trading partners don’t protect IPR, they threaten those critical jobs and exports,” said Kirk.
The Special 301 Report provides a means for the United States to promote the protection and enforcement of IPR. In the Report, USTR announced that Malaysia has been removed from the Watch List after making significant strides, including passing copyright amendments that strengthen copyright protection, stepped-up IPR enforcement, and promulgating regulations to protect pharmaceutical test data. In addition, Spain has been removed from the Watch List because of its adoption of regulations implementing a law to combat piracy over the Internet. Ukraine is being moved to the Priority Watch List from the Watch List in light of serious and growing concerns relating to counterfeiting and rampant piracy, including piracy over the Internet.
The Special 301 Report is an annual review of the global state of IPR protection and enforcement, which USTR conducts pursuant to 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.
USTR reviewed 77 trading partners for this year’s Special 301 Report, and placed 40 countries on the Priority Watch List, Watch List, or the Section 306 monitoring list.
Trading partners on the Priority Watch List present the most significant concerns regarding insufficient IPR protection or enforcement, or otherwise limited market access for persons relying on IPR protection. Thirteen countries –Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela – are on the Priority Watch List. These countries will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.
Twenty-seven trading partners are on the Watch List, also meriting bilateral attention to address underlying IPR problems: Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
Recently, the Commerce Department issued a report – Intellectual Property and the US Economy: Industries in Focus – which identified the economic sectors that generate IP, as well as the jobs, exports, and wage premiums those sectors support. The study also shows that IP is a key driver of the US economy: IP-intensive industries create 27.1 million jobs and indirectly support another 12.9 million jobs. All told, nearly 30 per cent of all US jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to IP-intensive industries.