The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has announced a “work plan” with Honduras to strengthen IP enforcement there. According to a USTR press release, Honduras will “substantially increase the number of prosecutors specializing in criminal IPR enforcement by the end of this March. The GOH has also committed to publish quarterly reports on prosecution case activity, in order to promote transparency and accountability as this plan is implemented. Additionally, the Work Plan addresses signal piracy in cable and satellite transmissions. Prosecutors will work to efficiently resolve pending criminal investigations associated with this problem and GOH authorities will engage with rights holders to promote expanded use of administrative enforcement options. The GOH’s cable regulatory authorities have committed to accept right holder identification of authorized cable licensees, and to take appropriate administrative enforcement actions, including the imposition of fines and suspension of business licenses in appropriate cases. These regulatory authorities also committed to publish quarterly reports on administrative enforcement activity.” The work plan also addresses concerns over the scope of geographical indications.
The work plan came about as a result of a Special 301 Out of Cycle review. Although the 2105 Special 301 Report did not place Honduras on any of its lists, it noted that the purpose of the Out of Cycle Review was to “determine whether to place that country on the Watch List.” A Law 360 story notes that the review followed “years of industry complaints about the country’s widespread cable and satellite signal piracy, opaque rules regarding geographical indications for food products and knock-off clothing items.”
The White House included news about the work plan in a subsequent blog about its efforts to support U.S. workers. The post includes quotes from 21st Century Fox and the Motion Picture Association of America which applaud it for bringing benefits to workers in the U.S. entertainment industry. It also includes a quote from HBO Latin America suggesting local benefits: “International frameworks that include strong IP provisions are a major priority for the American film and television industry because they promote jobs and economic growth. We hope this work plan can serve as a model for future cooperation throughout Latin America.”