May 022016
 

ustr-logoLast week, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released the 2016 Special 301 Report. The report satisfies the longstanding legislative requirement that it identify “those foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), or deny fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection.” Countries are either identified as a Priority Foreign Country (which triggers a process that can lead to sanctions) or placed on the Priority Watch List or the Watch List.

The World Trade Organization prohibits Members from unilaterally sanctioning each other, so it has become rare for a country to be included as a Priority Foreign Country. However, this year a new law requires USTR to develop “action plans” with countries on the Priority Watch List and allows “appropriate actions” if the U.S. is unsatisfied with its trading partners’ progress on these plans.  Continue reading »

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Mar 072016
 

sean - 150x150This reply comment responds to key questions that we were asked of us and others at the Special 301 hearing.

Flexible Exceptions Work in Developing Countries

I was asked in the hearing to comment on the proposition that flexible exceptions like fair use are only appropriate for the U.S. or other countries with highly developed adjudication systems. As I noted in the hearing, this idea is based on some key fallacies. Continue reading »

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Mar 072016
 
froman and milla

Photo: ustr.gov

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. Continue reading »

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Feb 082016
 

sean - 150x150Joint Special 301 Comment by Professors Michael Birnhack, Peter Jaszi, David Levine, Srividhya Ragavan, and Lea Shaver; and civil society organizations Public Knowledge and the Karisma Foundation.

The first part of this submission calls on USTR to adopt two interpretive principles in implementing the Special 301 statute. USTR should give proportional consideration to appropriate limitations and exceptions in evaluating foreign intellectual property systems, including by mentioning positive examples of limitations and exceptions in its “best practices” and “positive developments” identifications, and by listing countries on watch lists for egregious cases where a lack of limitations and exceptions stands as a barrier to US trade. Continue reading »

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Jan 122016
 

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) USTR Seal has requested comments for the Special 301 Report, which identifies countries that “deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection.” It will also hold a public hearing for further input.  The report is produced via an interagency process led by USTR, during which the Special 301 Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee reviews information from “many” sources, including submitted comments and public testimony, and recommends placement of countries in the report.  Continue reading »

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Oct 192015
 

zhouAuthor: Suzanne Zhou

Abstract: In April 2014, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) listed India on its Special 301 Priority Watch List, following India’s refusal to grant a patent over the leukemia drug Gleevec and its compulsory licensing of the cancer drug Nexavar. USTR also undertook an out-of-cycle review of India’s intellectual property laws, to determine whether or not to upgrade India to the more serious Priority Foreign Country status, which would potentially trigger retaliation through withdrawal of GSP benefits. Continue reading »

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Sep 032015
 

whitehouseThe White House Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) has issued a request for comments to inform the drafting of the next Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual  Property Enforcement.  The notice “invites public input and participation in shaping the Federal Government’s intellectual property enforcement strategy for 2016–2019.”  The Federal Register notice is here, and IP Czar Danny Marti’s post about it is here.  Comments are due October 16, 2015. Continue reading »

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Aug 192015
 

ustr-logoThe Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has issued a request for comments for the 2016 National Trade Estimate (NTE) report on Foreign Trade Barriers. This is an annual report in which USTR seeks to identify “significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods, services, and U.S. foreign direct investment.” The notice suggests that “commenters should submit information related to one or more of the following categories of foreign trade barriers … (4) Lack of intellectual property protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright, and trademark regimes);”

Comments are open to the public, and should be submitted electronically by October 28, 2015. See the Federal Register Notice for instructions. The NTE report is typically released in the spring of each yearm, and the 2015 NTE is available here.

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Jul 222015
 

msf logo[Médecins Sans Frontières press release, Link] At the International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference today, the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned that middle-income countries (MICs), which will be home to 70% of people living with HIV by 2020, face increasing threats to their ability to access affordable generic medicines, which are crucial to countries’ ability to reach the global UNAIDS 90/90/90* targets. Continue reading »

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Apr 302015
 

sean at podiumThe 2015 Special 301 Report continues a trend, beginning last year, of scrubbing a lot of language that long graced previous reports threatening other countries about WTO TRIPS and other international treaty violations. (See Special 301, A Historical Primer). This could be seen as an acknowledgment that such threats violate the World Trade Organization dispute settlement understanding. The WTO clearly states: Continue reading »

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Jan 252015
 

healthgap[Joint Letter from 12 American NGOs]  We write as American organizations in advance of your trip to India this month to ask you to support India’s central role in providing high-quality, low-cost generic medicines—which are essential for health care around the world. Recent U.S. policy stances have sought to topple parts of India’s intellectual property regime that protect public health in order to advance the interests of multinational pharmaceutical corporations in longer, stronger, and broader exclusive patent and related monopoly rights. India’s laws fully comply with the WTO TRIPS Agreement. Millions around the world depend on affordable generic medicines that would disappear if India acceded to these proposals, including many beneficiaries of US-funded programs. Instead of using your trip to promote the narrow interests of one segment of the pharmaceutical industry, we ask you to support the interests of people who need affordable medicines, whether they live in the U.S., in India, in Africa or elsewhere. Our world is safer and healthier because of India’s pro-health stance and we ask you to say so publicly while you are there.

Click here for the full letter (PDF).

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Jan 192015
 

ustr-logo[Federal Register Notice from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Link]  …USTR is hereby requesting written submissions from the public concerning foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection…

Dates/Deadlines: The schedule and deadlines for the 2015 Special 301 review are as follows: Continue reading »

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