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 can be subject to 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 IPR protection. Trading partners placed on the PWL are the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas.
A public hearing in connection with this review will be held Feb. 27 in Washington, D.C. Comments and statements for the hearing are due by Feb. 8 for interested parties other than foreign governments and Feb. 22 for foreign governments. Post-hearing comments are due by March 2.