Three Cheers for the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland!

Property Rights Alliance (PRA) praises the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for continuing their efforts to protect intellectual property around the world by releasing its annual Special 301 report on worldwide intellectual property rights and enforcement.

Strong intellectual property enforcement is key to long-term economic growth and prosperity. 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. In the U.S. alone intellectual property is valued at $5.5 trillion and accounts for more than half of all U.S. exports, driving 40 percent of this country’s economic growth.

As Ambassador Kirk put it in USTR’s press release:

“Intellectual property theft in overseas markets is an export killer for American businesses and a job killer for American workers here at home. USTR’s Special 301 report is important because it serves as the foundation for a year-round process used to secure meaningful reforms that bolsters our exports and supports American jobs in IPR-intensive industries.”

The press release praised the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary for cracking down on rampant counterfeiting and piracy and as a result those countries were removed from the Watch List. The report also continues to outline concerns regarding China for its “implementation of ‘indigenous innovation’ policies that may unfairly disadvantage U.S. IPR holders.”

Counterfeiting and piracy is a global problem that negatively impacts all sectors of the global economy from pharmaceuticals to software. As highlighted in the 2010 edition of the International Property Rights Index (IPRI), people in countries that protect their physical and intellectual property enjoy a GDP per capita up to eight times greater than those without legal protection. Countries that protect property rights provide an essential foundation for peace, stability and prosperity, the Index shows: its calculations cover 125 countries, representing 97 per cent of the world’s GDP.

With the release of this report, the United States continues to send a clear message to our trading partners that we are serious about protecting our creators and innovators and at the same time promoting prosperity around the world.

It is our hope that U.S. will continue along this course with the completion and implementation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This pact will expand upon cooperation that has developed regionally and bilaterally within the past few years and set a new framework for international norms for stronger IP enforcement.