The U.S. continues to have concerns about intellectual property rights protection and enforcement in dozens of countries but an annual report on the issue continues to make no mention of possible enforcement measures against countries that fail to address those concerns.

The 2024 Special 301 report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative examines concerns with respect to (1) challenges with border and criminal enforcement against counterfeits, including in the online environment, (2) high levels of online and broadcast piracy, including through illicit streaming devices, (3) inadequacies in trade secret protection and enforcement in China, Russia, and elsewhere, (4) indigenous innovation and forced or pressured technology transfer policies that may unfairly disadvantage U.S. right holders in markets abroad, and (5) other ongoing systemic issues regarding IPR protection and enforcement, as well as market access, in many trading partners around the world.

The report acknowledges that “combating such unfair trade policies” can benefit U.S. workers and families but indicates that the primary method the U.S. intends to utilize is “working closely” with named trading partners “to address both emerging and continuing concerns and to build on the positive results that many of these governments have achieved.” This apparently will include holding “extensive discussions” with these countries and encouraging them to engage fully and transparently with stakeholders on IPR matters. USTR also intends to develop an action plan with benchmarks for each country that has been on the priority watch list, although the agency made the same statement in its 2023 report and it is unclear whether this step was taken.


USTR said that in 2023 the pace of IPR-related reforms in China remained slow. Stakeholders continue to raise concerns about implementation of the amended patent law, copyright law, and criminal law as well as about longstanding issues like technology transfer, trade secrets, bad faith trademarks, counterfeiting, online piracy, and geographical indications. USTR said it “continues to monitor closely” China’s progress in implementing its commitments under the so-called Phase One bilateral trade agreement but offered no evaluation of that progress or indication of what steps could be taken if those commitments are not met.

Priority Watch List

Trading partners on the PWL present the most significant concerns regarding insufficient IPR protection or enforcement or actions that otherwise limit market access for persons relying on IPR protection. Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and Venezuela remain on the PWL this year.

USTR’s review of Ukraine, which had appeared on the PWL in 2021, continues to be suspended in light of Russia’s invasion.

Watch List

The following trading partners remain on the WL this year and merit bilateral attention to address underlying IPR problems: Algeria, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. 

The Dominican Republic was removed from the WL for significant progress in addressing concerns with IPR enforcement and transparency, and Uzbekistan was removed in light of sustained progress on longstanding issues pertaining to IPR protection and enforcement.

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