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USTR Trots Out Intellectual Property Rights Report

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it has published its annual Special 301 Report, which provides the agency’s opinion of the adequacy and effectiveness of the protection of intellectual property rights by U.S. trading partners.

The 2012 Special 301 Report can be downloaded from the USTR’s web site.

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Unedited press release follows:

USTR Releases Annual Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual “Special 301” Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR). The Report can be found on the USTR website by clicking here.

“This year’s Special 301 Report is more significant than ever in light of recent U.S. Government data showing that IP intensive industries support as many as 40 million American jobs and up to 60 percent of U.S. exports. When trading partners don’t protect IPR, they threaten those critical jobs and exports,” said United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “I am pleased to congratulate the Governments of Spain and Malaysia on the progress that resulted in their removal from the Special 301 Lists. On the other hand, I call on the Government of Ukraine to address the serious concerns that have caused us to put Ukraine back on the Priority Watch List.”

The Special 301 Report provides a means for the United States to promote the protection and enforcement of IPR. In the Report, USTR announced that Malaysia has been removed from the Watch List after making significant strides, including passing copyright amendments that strengthen copyright protection, stepped-up IPR enforcement, and promulgating regulations to protect pharmaceutical test data. In addition, Spain has been removed from the Watch List because of its adoption of regulations implementing a law to combat piracy over the Internet. Ukraine is being moved to the Priority Watch List from the Watch List in light of serious and growing concerns relating to counterfeiting and rampant piracy, including piracy over the Internet.

The Special 301 Report is an annual review of the global state of IPR protection and enforcement, which USTR conducts pursuant to Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.

USTR reviewed 77 trading partners for this year’s Special 301 Report, and placed 40 countries on the Priority Watch List, Watch List, or the Section 306 monitoring list.

Trading partners on the Priority Watch List present the most significant concerns regarding insufficient IPR protection or enforcement, or otherwise limited market access for persons relying on IPR protection. Thirteen countries –Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela – are on the Priority Watch List. These countries will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.

Twenty-seven trading partners are on the Watch List, also 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, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

“Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus”
Recently, the Commerce Department issued a report entitled, “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus.” The report identifies the economic sectors that generate IP, as well as the jobs, exports, and wage premiums those sectors support. The study also shows that IP is a key driver of the U.S. economy: IP-intensive industries create 27.1 million jobs and indirectly support another 12.9 million jobs. All told, nearly 30 percent of all U.S. jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to IP-intensive industries.

USTR will continue to support growth in jobs in the United States resulting from innovation and creativity through its efforts to ensure that global consumers have access in overseas markets to U.S. exports of IPR-intensive products. Among other things, USTR will continue to advance a robust IPR chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations; ensure that U.S. trade agreements are properly implemented; and use the Special 301 process, as well as bilateral engagement, to enhance IPR protection and enforcement abroad.

Public Engagement
The Report is the result of strong stakeholder input and interagency consultation. USTR requested written submissions from the public through a notice published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2011. This year’s review yielded 42 comments from interested parties. The submissions received by USTR were made available to the public online at, docket number USTR-2011-0021. On February 23, 2012, USTR conducted a public hearing at which interested persons testified before the interagency Special 301 subcommittee. The hearing included testimony from 12 witnesses, including representatives from industry, non-governmental organizations and foreign governments. A transcript of the hearing is available at