Taiwan has managed to stay off the US’ Special 301 Report for the fourth consecutive year, meaning it has not been blacklisted for violating intellectual property (IP) laws and copyright protection among the US’ trading partners.
In the report released on Monday by the Office of the Trade Representative (USTR), Taiwan was not among the annual list of countries the US identified as failing to adopt and enforce effective intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.
Each April, the US publishes the report, which identifies “priority watch list” and “watch list” countries or economies among its major trading partners, with some deemed to have serious IP-related problems subject to a special monitoring program under Section 306 of the US Trade Act.
The priority watch list carries no threat of sanctions, but is meant to shame governments into cracking down on piracy and counterfeiting and updating their copyright laws.
Taiwan, which was often listed in the report in the 1990s, has not been included since 2009. The country was removed from the report’s “watch list” that year after it implemented several measures such as a specialized intellectual property protection court, a government-sponsored IPR protection program in schools and regulations that strengthen copyright protection.
“This year’s Special 301 Report is more significant than ever in light of recent US government data showing that IP-intensive industries support as many as 40 million American jobs and up to 60 percent of US exports,” US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.
Canada, which is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement nations along with Mexico and the US, made the list for the fourth consecutive year, partly for failing to reform its copyright laws.
The USTR said Canada’s place on the priority watch list was “subject to review” if Ottawa enacts long-awaited copyright legislation. The report urged Canada to take stronger action to fight piracy over the Internet and to give its customs officials increased authority to seize counterfeit goods at the border.
Among the 77 US trading partners reviewed, Russia and China were among the 13 countries identified as the worst piracy offenders and put on the report’s “priority watch list,” while Spain and Malaysia were removed from the list.
It was Russia’s 16th straight year on the list, according to a tally kept by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a US business group.
China has been on the priority watch list for eight years and subject to a special monitoring program under Section 306 of the US Trade Act since the late 1990s.
USTR placed Ukraine on the priority watch list for the first time since 2007.
Ukraine has made “minimal progress” in implementing a 2010 action plan to reduce piracy and counterfeiting and “in some cases took steps backward,” the USTR said.
Kirk congratulated Malaysia and Spain for being removed from a lower-level watch list that includes 27 countries this year.
Malaysia was dropped from the watch list in recognition of steps it has taken to strengthen protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and for issuing regulations to protect pharmaceutical test data, USTR said.
Spain was removed from the watch list after adopting regulations to combat piracy over the Internet, it said.