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Notorious Markets for IPR Infringing Goods Listed in Annual USTR Report

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released Jan. 11 the results of its Special 301 out-of-cycle review of notorious markets for 2017. This review identifies 25 online markets and 18 physical markets around the world that reportedly engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. USTR notes that inclusion on the Notorious Markets List does not reflect a finding of a violation of law or the U.S. government’s analysis of the general IPR protection and enforcement climate in the country concerned, which is presented in the annual Special 301 report issued at the end of April.

According to USTR, this year’s report highlights illicit streaming devices as an emerging piracy model of growing concern. It also calls on several e-commerce platforms to improve takedown procedures, proactive measures, and cooperation with right holders, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, to decrease the volume and prevalence of counterfeit and pirated goods on their platforms.   

The report finds that some progress has taken place over the past year, USTR states. Some market owners and operators have made efforts to address the widespread availability of pirated or counterfeit goods in their markets. In addition, some governments (including Argentina and Thailand) continue to institute novel strategies to combat piracy and counterfeiting, such as voluntary initiatives with advertising networks to cut off financial support for websites devoted to copyright infringement, installing intellectual property enforcement centers on-location in high-priority physical markets, and using skills training to reorient former counterfeit sellers toward operating legitimate businesses.

USTR notes that some previously identified markets may not appear on this year’s list for a variety of reasons, including that the market has closed or its popularity or significance has diminished, enforcement or voluntary action has reduced or eliminated the prevalence of infringing goods or services, market owners or operators are cooperating with right holders or government authorities to address infringement, the market is no longer a noteworthy example of its kind, or no commenter nominated the market for continued inclusion on the list. However, USTR continues to monitor markets that no longer appear on the list and may re-list them if there is a change in circumstances; e.g., a website or physical market that ceased to operate because of enforcement or other action resumes unauthorized activities, or the corrective actions that merited removal prove inadequate or short-lived.

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