USTR Releases 2011 Special 301 Report
Tuesday, May 3, 2011 3:48 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek


This week, USTR released it annual Special 301 Report, reviewing trading partners’ protection of intellectual property rights. Not much has changed since last year’s Special 301. The report places 28 countries on the Watch List and 12 countries on the Priority Watch List including: China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela. However, this year, USTR has invited countries to work with them to develop action plans to address IP concerns. Whether or not there will be repercussions (and in what form) if a country doesn’t follow through on promises to better their IP protection remains to be seen.
Highlighting areas of concern for intellectual property protection comes at an important time in U.S. trade relations, as the U.S. continues negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Of the 9 countries currently part of the TPP negotiations, 5 have been placed on the Watch List or the Priority Watch List. As trade negotiators move forward, a high standard for protection should be included in the intellectual property chapter.
Intellectual property rights can boost trade and foreign investment dramatically, but first, global piracy and counterfeiting must be stopped or significantly reduced for the economies of developed and developing nations to thrive.
Click here to read the entire report.


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Winning in California
Tuesday, April 26, 2011 12:26 pm | By Katerina Bricker

Last Thursday April 21, 2011, Steven Denton, San Diego Superior Court Judge, overthrew National City’s 2007 renewal of its redevelopment plan. This plan had given the city eminent domain power over an area that encompassed 692 properties. This is a big win!

The ruling came about because of a suit filed by the Community Youth Athletic Center (CYAC), which runs a youth boxing gym. The gym’s attorney is from the Institute for Justice based in Arlington Virginia, which is a nonprofit group that disputes eminent domain powers. The main argument the gym’s attorneys had with the 2007 plan was that the city abused its powers of eminent domain by designating the area as blighted without giving proper documentation and not allowing sufficient time for them to object.
In Denton’s fifty page ruling he stated, “Because most or all of the conditions cited as showing dilapidation or deterioration are minor maintenance issues, the court cannot determine with reasonable certainty the existence or extent of buildings rendered unsafe due to dilapidation or deterioration.” The City responded with the argument that they “tried” to find the gym a new location and they believe they gave them ample amount of time to respond.
National City wanted to make way for a 24-story, mixed-use condominium project. The CYAC was built for keeping local at-risk kids out of gangs. Clemente Casillas, the CYAC President, said, “I hope National City does the right thing now and throws in the towel so we can get back to focusing all our attention on helping to grow the kids in our community.  The city can have redevelopment, but that has to be done through private negotiation, not by government force.”
This is great news for people in California. This is the very first case interpreting the changes to the law since the 2007 response ruling to the Kelo decision. Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, said, “This decision will go a long way in protecting Californians throughout the state against eminent domain abuse.”

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Issa/ Eshoo Oppose Tech Mandates, Support Innovation
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:24 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced H. Con. Res. 4, the “Creativity and Innovation Resolution” This resolution highlights the importance of rewarding creators for their works, as well as protecting innovations from unnecessary mandates.

The debate currently being waged in Congress is whether radio broadcasters should be allowed to use copyrighted intellectual property without compensation because of the perceived promotional benefit to the owner of the creative work. Broadcasters are by law exempt from paying royalties to owners of sound recording copyrights. Past-proposed amendments in the House and Senate to the 1995 Act would eliminate the exemption for broadcast radio, thus requiring them to pay royalties to the owner of the sound recording.

The Property Rights Alliance has long been an advocate of the right of performers to collect royalties from broadcasters when their recordings are played on the radio, but unfortunately as a way to resolve this dispute there have been proposals to mandate that all mobile devices carry an FM receiver. An FM chip mandate is both unnecessary and harmful to tech innovation. In the current marketplace, consumers are offered hundreds of choices from smartphones to tablets, as well as a multitude of ways to enjoy music on these devices. If there truly is a high demand, the appropriate response comes from the market. Onerous government mandates do nothing more than drive up costs for consumers for a function they may not want.

I applaud Reps. Issa and Eschoo for standing up for artists' rights while resisting harmful government mandates.

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