USTR Special 301 Report puts China on 'priority watch list,' excludes Taiwan

US Trade Representative Special 301 Report puts China on 'priority watch list' for IP violations, excludes Taiwan from watch lists

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(Image from ustr.gov)

(Image from ustr.gov)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- U.S. Trade Representative's Office (USTR) released its annual Special 301 Report today listing China on its "priority watch list" for Intellectual Property (IP) violations, but Taiwan was left out of the report's two watch lists and has been given a generally favorable assessment, with some exceptions.

The USTR today released its annual Special 301 Report and included the following 11 countries on its "priority watch list:" China, Indonesia, India, Algeria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela. As for its "watch list," it included a total of 25 countries, including: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Romania, Switzerland, Turkey, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru. Taiwan was not listed in either group.

The report praised Taiwan and the European Union as trading partners which have "strengthened or have been working toward strengthening their trade secret regimes." However, the report listed Taiwan among countries where stakeholders have reported rampant piracy through illicit streaming devices (ISDs).

The report also singled out Taiwan for "not effectively criminalizing unauthorized camcording in theaters." However, the report did state that Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office has issued a notice announcing that the Copyright Act applies not only to "prohibiting peer-to-peer infringement, but also infringement through all forms of technology used to publicly transmit or reproduce works."

As for IP awareness and educational campaigns, the report stated that Taiwan has worked with stakeholders to put together many outreach programs for students and devised "training seminars to reach multiple sectors of the government to address IP rights, piracy, and camcording."

The report pointed out that in the coming weeks the USTR will conduct reviews for countries that have long been on the "priority watch list" and "appropriate actions" will be taken against countries which have failed to address U.S. concerns. The actions would include "enforcement actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act or pursuant to World Trade Organization or other trade agreement dispute settlement procedures."

As for China, the report placed the communist country on the "priority watch list" because of its "urgent need" to make "fundamental structural changes" to address a plethora of IP issues including "trade secret theft, online piracy and counterfeiting, the highvolume manufacture and export of counterfeit goods, and impediments to pharmaceutical innovation." The report also continues to subject China to Section 306 monitoring, which requires the USTR to monitor China's compliance with steps taken to resolve an investigation under Section 301.

This is the 15th consecutive year that China has been placed on the "priority watch list." Under the terms of Section 306, if China fails to address the issues listed, the USTR reserves the right to apply sanctions.