USTR Releases Annual Report on Counterfeiting and Piracy

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of trading partners’ protection of intellectual property rights and the findings of its Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy (the Review), which highlights online and physical markets that reportedly engage in and facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy.

“The Trump Administration is committed to holding intellectual property rights violators accountable and to ensuring that American innovators and creators have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their work,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “Over the last year, USTR has secured strong and enforceable obligations on intellectual property in our historic agreements with China, Canada, and Mexico. The two reports issued today illustrate the Administration’s commitment to protecting intellectual property rights and combatting counterfeiting and piracy in online and physical markets.”

Special 301 Report

The Special 301 Report identifies trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights..

Trading partners that currently present the most significant concerns regarding IP rights are placed on the Priority Watch List or Watch List. USTR identified 33 countries for these lists in the Special 301 Report:

· Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela are on the Priority Watch List.

· Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam are on the Watch List.

USTR also announced Out-of-Cycle Reviews for Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

These trading partners will be the subject of increased bilateral engagement with USTR to address IP concerns. Over the coming weeks, USTR will review the developments against the benchmarks established in the Special 301 action plans for those countries. For countries failing to address U.S. concerns, USTR will take appropriate actions, which may include enforcement actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act or pursuant to World Trade Organization (WTO) or other trade agreement dispute settlement procedures.

As part of the Special 301 review process, USTR invited public comments and held a public hearing that featured testimony from witnesses representing foreign governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations. USTR also offered a post-hearing comment period during which hearing participants could submit additional information. 

Clickhere to read the 2020 Special 301 public hearing transcript.

Clickhere to view the video recording of the 2020 Special 301 public hearing.

To read the Special 301 Report, please see the attached document.

Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy

The Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy highlights 38 online markets and 34 physical markets that are reported to engage in or facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy. This activity harms the American economy by undermining the innovation and intellectual property rights of U.S. IP owners in foreign markets. An estimated 2.5 percent, or nearly half a trillion dollars’ worth, of imports worldwide are counterfeit and pirated products.

The Review maintains its special focus on the distribution of pirated content and counterfeit goods online. This year, the Review contains an “Issue Focus” that explores the nexus between online piracy and malware. The Review also continues to discuss emerging piracy models, including illicit streaming devices, “stream-ripping,” and piracy portals and apps that cause major damage to the digital marketplace for legitimate music, movies, and television. 

In addition, consistent with the April 2019 Presidential Memorandum on Combatting Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, this year’s Review has an expanded discussion on the challenges related to counterfeit and pirated goods on e-commerce platforms and third-party marketplaces. USTR will continue to address the issue of counterfeit and pirated goods with our trading partners and is considering seeking more information regarding e-commerce platforms, including those based in the United States, in future reports.

The Review does not constitute an exhaustive list of all markets reported to deal in pirated or counterfeit goods around the world, nor does it reflect findings of legal violations or the U.S. Government’s analysis of the general IP protection and enforcement climate in the country concerned. USTR initiated this Review on August 19, 2019 through publication in the Federal Register a request for public comments. The request for comments and the public’s responses are online at www.regulations.gov, Docket number USTR-2019-0013.

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