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USTR Preparing Annual Report on Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement

Thursday, January 05, 2012
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has initiated its annual review of foreign countries’ acts, policies and practices concerning the protection of intellectual property rights. USTR will hold a hearing and gather comments and plans to issue a report no later than April 30.

Section 182 of the 1974 Trade Act, also known as Special 301, requires USTR to identify countries that deny adequate and effective IPR protection or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on IPR protection. Those countries that have the most onerous or egregious acts, policies or practices that have the greatest adverse impact (actual or potential) on relevant U.S. products are to be identified as priority foreign countries. Acts, policies or practices that are the basis of a country’s designation as a PFC are normally the subject of an investigation under the Section 301 provisions of the Trade Act.

USTR has also created a priority watch list and a watch list to assist policymakers in pursuing the goals of the Special 301 provisions. The placement of a trading partner on the PWL or WL indicates that particular problems exist in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement or market access for persons relying on intellectual property. Trading partners placed on the PWL are the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas.

USTR is now requesting written public comments on those acts, policies and practices relevant to determining whether to designate a particular country as a PFC or place it on the PWL or WL. Comments are due by Feb. 10 for interested parties other than foreign governments and Feb. 17 for foreign governments. Those are also the deadlines for requests to testify at a public hearing that will be held Feb. 23 in Washington, D.C. Where relevant, submissions should mention particular regions, provinces, states or other subdivisions of a country whose acts, policies or practices deserve special attention.

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