The government of Honduras has committed to undertake a series of actions to strengthen its protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, according to a March 2 press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. USTR Mike Froman said this agreement is “an important success for the fair treatment of American businesses and workers,” including in the dairy, creative, telecommunications, textiles and apparel industries.
According to USTR, Honduras has made the following commitments.
- substantially increasing the number of prosecutors specializing in criminal IPR enforcement by the end of March
- publishing quarterly reports on prosecution case activity
- working to efficiently resolve pending criminal investigations associated with signal piracy in cable and satellite transmissions and engaging with rights holders to promote the expanded use of administrative enforcement options
- accepting rights holder identification of authorized cable licensees and taking appropriate administrative enforcement actions, including the imposition of fines and suspension of business licenses in appropriate cases
- clarifying how an interested party may seek clarification as to whether individual components of a compound geographical indication are generic and therefore not entitled to GI protection when used in isolation
- clarifying the possible generic status of individual terms in future cases via public notices
- reviewing draft measures to improve border enforcement through implementation of a customs trademark registry
- reactivating the Interagency Commission to Combat Piracy and Counterfeiting to strengthen interagency coordination and cooperation in IPR protection
The press release states that these commitments will strengthen implementation of the CAFTA-DR commitments relating to intellectual property and will address concerns raised in an out-of-cycle review conducted to determine if Honduras should be placed on USTR’s Special 301 Watch List. Placement on the Watch List indicates that particular problems exist in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement or market access for persons relying on IPR protection. USTR suggested, but did not specifically state, that Honduras will not be placed on the Watch List as a result of its commitments.