The USTR 2014 “Special 301 Report”
May 8, 2014
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently released its 2014 Special 301 Report. The report serves as an analysis on the capability and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners to protect and enforce intellectual property rights. In the 301 Report the USTR highlighted areas of concern regarding IPR, especially among notorious IPR infringing states like China, Philippines, and India.
Recently India has received tremendous criticism regarding its legal framework and enforcement of IPR, especially regarding pharmaceuticals, copyright protection and rampant piracy. As a result India has been classified as a Classified Priority Watch List country by the USTR, requiring an Out- of Cycle review that will take place in the fall of 2014. India’s inability to protect IPR has led to join the company of some of the worst infringers upon IPR: China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Venezuela. It should be noted that despite Chile Watch List status, the country has made significant improvements to general protection on property rights, in recent years, and ranks n.26 according to the International Property Rights Index. Meanwhile, China and Venezuela, for example, rank n. 58 and n.127 out 131, respectively.
Among the positive developments stated in the 301 report, Israel, Italy, and the Philippines have been removed from the Watch List. However, while largely considered to be one of the most developed countries in the world Canada remains on the U.S. Watch List.
Intellectual Property Rights serve as a foundation for developed and developing economies because they encourage ingenuity, investment, and economic growth. Today more than ever IPR is playing a pivotal role in the lives of millions, responsible for more than 30 million jobs in America alone and millions more around the world across multiple sectors of the economy such as: technology, medicine, manufacturing, entertainment, and many more. Therefore, it is crucial today more than ever that the United States and the international community focus efforts on the protection of IP in order to continue incentivizing individuals and companies to create products that serve to benefit the international community.
The PRA encourages all countries to focus on improving their IPR legal framework and enforcement capabilities because the success of the global economy and future development of life changing products like medication depend on it.