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US trade office names Canada, Russia, China as countries with 'inadequate' IP protections

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) [official website] on Friday placed Russia, China, and Canada [JURIST news archives] on its Priority Watch List [text, PDF] of 12 countries that are not adequately protecting intellectual property rights [press release]. The USTR stated that the Chinese, on the list for the sixth straight year, are using preferential government procurement to advance "indigenous innovation," which could restrict market access for foreign technology. The report found particularly troubling the pace of Russia, on the list for the thirteenth year, in fighting optical disc and Internet piracy, marketing approval for pharmaceutical products, general deterrence of piracy, counterfeiting, strengthening border enforcement, and aligning its legal system to the intellectual property right norms. Additionally, the US found that Canada, listed for the second straight year, needs to provide its border agents with the ability to seize suspected infringing materials without a court order. USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk [official profile] said:

Intellectual property theft in overseas markets is an export killer for American businesses and a job killer for American workers here at home. USTR's Special 301 report is important because it serves as the foundation for a year-round process used to secure meaningful reforms that bolsters our exports and supports American jobs in IPR-intensive industries. I am pleased that this year's Special 301 Report will highlight several successes in the fight against intellectual property theft. The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland have taken significant steps to clamp down on piracy and counterfeiting and will be removed from the Watch List.
While Russia, Canada, and China have been criticized as the worst violators of US copyright law, other countries on the list include Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela. The US-based International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a consortium of seven trade associations representing 1,900 US companies producing and distributing copyrighted materials, expanded on the 2010 USTR report by detailing specific violations [press release, PDF] by Canada, China, and Russia. The IIPA found that the number of violations had increased over the past year due to what it called the "explosive growth of online and mobile piracy."

In March, the Canadian government pledged to strengthen copyright laws [JURIST report]. Last year, the USTR placed Canada on its priority watch list [JURIST report] for the first time. In January 2009, a dispute settlement panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO) [official website] found for the US [JURIST report] that large parts of China's intellectual property scheme are inconsistent with its obligations under several international treaties, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) [text].

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