Canada again named to USTR’s Priority Watch List for weak IP laws

April 30th, 2010 by Barry Sookman Leave a reply »

The USTR just released its 2010 Special 301 Report. Canada has again been placed on the Priority Watch List along with Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, and Venezuela.

In placing Canada on this list, the USTR stated the following: 

Canada will remain on the Priority Watch List in 2010. The United States looks forward to the government of Canada’s implementation of its previous commitments, recently reaffirmed in 2010, to improve IPR protection, and is encouraged by the high level of cooperation between the Canadian and United States governments on IPR matters. However, Canada has not completed the legislative reforms in the copyright area that are necessary to deliver on its commitments. The United States urges Canada to enact legislation in the near term to update its copyright laws and address the challenge of Internet piracy. Canada should fully implement the WIPO Internet Treaties, which Canada signed in 1997. Canada’s weak enforcement of intellectual property rights is also of concern, and the United States continues to encourage Canada to improve its IPR enforcement system to provide for deterrent sentences and stronger enforcement powers. In particular, border enforcement continues to be weak. The United States encourages Canada to provide its border officials with the authority to seize suspected infringing materials without the need for a court order. The United States will continue to follow Canada’s progress toward implementing an adequate and effective IPR protection and enforcement regime, including its progress on actions to address Internet piracy and improve border enforcement.

The USTR  Press Release which accompanied the report explained the background and methodology used in creating it:

“USTR reviewed 77 trading partners for this year’s Special 301 Report, and placed 41 countries on the Priority Watch List, Watch List, or the Section 306 monitoring list.   

The Special 301 designations and actions announced in the Special 301 Report are the result of close consultations with affected stakeholders, interested parties, foreign governments, and Congress, as well as discussions between interested federal agencies.   

This year USTR enhanced its public engagement activities, which yielded 571 written comments from interested parties, a significant increase from 2009. USTR made the submissions it received available to the public online at www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2010-0003. In addition, on March 3, 2010, USTR conducted a public hearing to let interested persons inform the interagency Special 301 Subcommittee of issues relevant to the review. The hearing included testimony from 23 witnesses, ranging from foreign governments to industry representatives to non-governmental organizations. A transcript of the hearing is available at http://www.ustr.gov/webfm_send/1726.   

Trading partners on the Priority Watch List do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection. China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela are on the Priority Watch List. These countries will be the subject of particularly intense engagement through bilateral discussion during the coming year.  

Twenty-nine trading partners are on the lower-level Watch List, meriting bilateral attention to address underlying IPR problems: Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam… 

Our process of broad consultations is designed to ensure that Special 301 decisions are based on a robust understanding of often complex intellectual property issues and to help facilitate sound, well-balanced assessments of developments in particular countries. USTR necessarily conducts this assessment on a case-by-case basis, based on the particular facts and circumstances that shape IPR protection and enforcement regimes in specific countries. As discussed in the Report, USTR will continue to work closely with the governments of listed countries.”

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