Originally published: May 2, 2010
Last updated: May 2, 2010 - 3:53pm
On April 30, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released its annual "Special 301" report that identifies countries that are not doing enough to protect U.S. intellectual property and noted that three Eastern European countries have been moved off the watch list by making significant progress on the issue.
The report "identifies a wide range of serious concerns, ranging from troubling 'indigenous innovation' policies that may unfairly disadvantage U.S. rights holders in China, to the continuing challenges of Internet piracy in countries such as Canada and Spain, to the ongoing systemic IPR enforcement challenges in many countries around the world," according to the report. USTR said it removed Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland from its watch list. On Hungary, the report notes that "it has taken proactive steps to address the growing threat of Internet piracy, and its customs and police officials have developed their ability to effectively identify infringing products." Hungary was praised for taking "some initial steps to address Internet piracy concerns," while USTR noted the Czech Republic's passage of a law enhancing penalties for IP infringement. Still despite this, the report highlighted several other trouble spots including China, which along with 10 other countries has been placed on its "priority watch list."
Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn criticized the report for not adequately scrutinizing the claims of IP interests. "Once again, the U.S. Trade Representative ... has produced a report that mirrors the views of big media companies," she said. "In judging the efforts of other countries to enforce intellectual property rights, USTR has failed to include any notion of balance in copyright law and failed to make public the statistics it used to support its pronouncements on the activities of other countries.
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