Thursday, May 1, 2014

USTR Special 301 review 2014

The US government has released its annual Special 301 Review of its trading partners’ IP practices. See here last year’s. The SE Asian countries mentioned this year are as follows:

Priority Watch List:

Indonesia. Complaints remain around legislative gaps and enforcement failures, especially in judicial and prosecutorial systems as regards transparency and deterrent sentencing, despite rampant piracy and counterfeiting.  Growing piracy over the Internet and widely available counterfeit pharmaceutical products are problems, so is Media Box piracy, typically the sale of hard drives loaded with large quantities of pirated works. Compulsory patent licenses, protection of undisclosed regulatory data and cable piracy are also mentioned.

Thailand. The new National IPR Center of Enforcement is recognized as an important development. Legislative deficiencies identified include landlord liability, unauthorized film camcording, Thai Customs’ ex officio authority, implementing the WIPO Internet Treaties and improving the Trade Secret law. Specific industry concerns include media box piracy and illegitimate governmental use of software. Problems in practice include slow patent examination, copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting including on the Internet and piracy of cable and satellite signals.

On the lower level Watch List is:

Vietnam. Despite new decrees and circulars significant legislative areas of concern remain, growing internet piracy and sales of counterfeit goods, physical markets for counterfeit goods, book and software piracy cable and satellite signal theft, media box piracy and illegitimate governmental use of software are all mentioned.  Enforcement remains difficult due to weak resources and IPR expertise, poor coordination and weak criminal implementing guidelines.

The big difference from last year is the removal of the Philippines. This is a reflection of various efforts including legislative reforms and a move toward more effective civil and administrative enforcement efforts along with IP authorities’ engagement with the U.S. Government and private sector. This is probably mostly the efforts of the Philippines IP Office, which has been extremely active in trying to improve its IP system. Indeed when the IPO couldn’t fix the weak enforcement system, long a problem of multiple ministries, the IPO decided to set up its own enforcement system. Hopefully this will incentivize other countries to make improvements.

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