Monday, May 2, 2011

The USTR report and SE Asia - the Priority Watch list markets

 Priority Watch List
The annual US “Special 301” review of the state of IPR protection and enforcement in its trade partners, which the Office of the USTR conducts each year under the US Trade Act was released today. 

New IPR violation trends in SE Asia identified were the growth in counterfeit pharma products in Indonesia, the transit of illegal labels for products through the Philippines and growing internet IP infringement in the Philippines and Vietnam. Market access concerns that affect IP include Indonesia's rules restricting import of pharma products.

Indonesia, a Priority Watch List (PWL) country was praised for cable piracy improvements but the principal concern about the criminal justice system's failure to deter IPR violation for hard products is cited, specifically a lack of prosecutions and deterrent penalties. Of note is the comment that Indonesia is failing to keep pace. See here for earlier blogposts.  Specific industry complaints centre around protecting pharma and chemical regulatory data, during marketing approval and the market access barrier imposed recently through restrictions on pharma imports. For more on this see here.

Thailand, also a PWL country is recognised for its National Committee on Creative Economy and formation of the Thai-U.S. Creative Partnership to help creative industries. Complaints are the lack of provisions on landlord liability, unauthorized camcording of films and ex parte authority for Customs to act and failure to implement the WIPO treaties. Fake hard goods, internet based IP violation and cable piracy remain problems as does access to medicines in the light of Thailand's position on the Doha Declaration.

These two countries position on the PWL perhaps reflect the size in Indonesia's case and visibility of Thailand's markets, and therefore the concern at the overt prevalence of fake goods in these countries, perhaps more so than other SE Asian markets. Interestingly Indonesia's problems centre on hard goods only, whereas Thailand with perhaps a more developed (at least in Bangkok) economy has an internet based infringement problem as well. Both countries face pharma concerns, both fake products and regulatory and market access issues. Thailand has been the renegade with threatening compulsory licensing for emergency illnesses, whereas Indonesia's problems relate to pricing for its vast population. IP Komodo hopes both countries engage more with USTR, international organisations and IP holders to solve the more serious problems especially those relating to a lack of enforcement.

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