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On the Watch List: 5 Countries Not Strengthening Intellecutal Property Rights
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 5:25 pm | By Anthony Lizan

In the previous post, the Property Rights Alliance (PRA) highlighted 4 countries that were taken off the US Trade Representative’s Watch List for their efforts to improve IPR protection. Yet despite these improvements, 40 countries continue to be monitored for their enforcement weaknesses. The PRA would like to highlight 5 countries that regularly make either the priority or general watch lists. China, Russia, India, Mexico, and Brazil all have serious IP protection shortfalls that need to be corrected.

China is notorious for trafficking counterfeit software and entertainment. According to the 2010 International Property Rights Index (IPRI), “pirated business software and music still account for 80 percent and 90 percent of their markets, respectively.” The USTR states that 79 percent of counterfeit goods confiscated at the US border are from China. Furthermore, China’s protectionist scheme—indigenous innovation—levies onerous rules on companies that sell foreign goods. It has become so hard to buy and sell certain foreign products that people now prefer the black market as an alternative.

Russia remains on the Priority Watch List because of its reluctance to enact any meaningful IP protections. In a 2006 bilateral agreement with the U.S., Russia agreed to address several issues and to comply with the WTO’s TRIPS agreement. While Russia enacted several IP amendments to its civil code, as of 2010, none of the provisions agreed upon have become law. As a result, levels of internet, optical disc, and pharmaceutical piracy remain high. (Click the "Read More" link below)

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Off the Watch List: 4 Countries Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights Protection
Monday, June 14, 2010 12:43 pm | By Anthony Lizan

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) recently released its annual Special 301 Report, which focuses on global intellectual property rights protection. The report highlights and monitors countries with IP enforcement inadequacies and places them into two lists, the “Priority Watch List,” and the “Watch List.”

With the exception of Israel, whose status is pending, the “Priority Watch List” remains unchanged since 2009. (The Israelis have agreed to address several issues relating to pharmaceutical products, and the Property Rights Alliance will continue to monitor their progress.)The “Watch List,” on the other hand, did see an improvement from last year. Four countries—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Saudi Arabia—all made great strides to increase IPR enforcement. (Click the "Read More" link below)

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Canada Seeks to Crack Down on Copyright Infringement
Friday, June 11, 2010 1:55 pm | By Anthony Lizan

Ottawa’s Bill C-32 , the Copyright Modernization Act, is currently making its way through the Canadian Parliament. If it passes, it will bar Canadians from breaking digital locks on entertainment products—including music and movies—to duplicate the content. The bill also includes a “notice-to-notice” provision that allows copyright holders to warn internet service providers of suspected piracy. The service providers are then obliged to tell their customers that they are breaking the law. The bill is Canada’s attempt to comply with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s treaty that it signed in 1997.

 
This bill is great news for copyright holders, intellectual property rights advocates, and innovators in general. As noted in the 2010 International Property Rights Index, “copyright piracy levels continued to be somewhat high for a well developed country – estimated at an average of 33 percent. As a result, the country was added to the “priority watch list” by the U.S. Trade Representative. Moreover, reflective of the lack of progress with respect to IPR protection is the fact that expert option on protection of intellectual property rights has deteriorated since 2009.” With Canada’s lax attitude towards IP protection, this new bill is a step in the right direction. It gives more power and protections to the people who help drive the Canadian economy.  
 
Canada remains one of the only developed countries not to have implemented internet protections agreed to in copyright treatys. Implementation of C-32 would be a positive step in combating IP theft and copyright infringement in Canada. 

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