The United State Trade Representative (USTR) has published a notice asking for comments on its annual “Special Section 301” review of countries that don’t adequately protect the intellectual property rights (including patent rights) of US companies or don’t allow fair market access to US companies.
Any trading partner that:
- Had serious violations of US IP rights, or
- Had anti-IP-protection policies or practices with the worst impact on US exports, and
- Was not entering into good faith negotiations or making progress toward correcting these problems
is designated a “Priority Foreign Country.”
Such a country may be the subject of a Section 301 investigation.
The USTR prepares a Watch List and Priority Watch List of countries in which US companies have IP protection problems.
Countries placed on the lists are pressured by the US government to adopt stricter laws and practices to protect IP rights and fight IP infringement.
In 2013, ten countries were on the Priority Watch List:
An additional 30 countries were on the Watch List.
A public hearing will be held on February 24, 2014, with post-hearing comments due by March 7.
According to the USTR,
written comments should be as detailed as possible and provide all necessary information for identifying and assessing the effect of the acts, policies, and practices. USTR requests that interested parties provide specific references to laws, regulations, policy statements, executive, presidential or other orders, administrative, court or other determinations that should factor in the review. USTR also requests that, where relevant, submissions mention particular regions, provinces, states, or other subdivisions of a country in which an act, policy, or practice is believed to warrant special attention. Finally, 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. Comments that include quantitative loss claims should be accompanied by the methodology used in calculating such estimated losses.
Comments can be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR–2013–0040.
Companies affected by IP rights violations can comment, as can the foreign governments involved.
The Special 301 Report will be issued in May.
Details are available at http://www.ustr.gov.