Thursday, 3 May 2012

The news is out – are you in the list?

Early on this week the blog posted the "Special 301 Report" published annually by the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The Report re-evaluates the state of intellectual property rights (IPR)—to include protection and enforcement, in trading partners around the world.

From Latin America (LA), the list indicates that Argentina, Chile and Venezuela were placed in the "priority watch list" BUT does it mean that the other LA countries were given the o.k.?

I did have a look at the complete list and unfortunately the majority of the LA countries appear in the Watch List. I found Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and even a note regarding the situation of Paraguay, which is in the Monitoring List. Yet, the USTR is pleased to see the progress made by the country and it refers to a case decided in 2011 which obtained the first conviction under its new criminal laws. However, the USTR still has serious concerns regarding piracy and counterfeiting and advice the country to “intensify its customs actions and improve its cooperation with neighbouring countries Brazil and Argentina on cross-border enforcement of IPR.”

Under different headings I was looking for the LA countries and I found the following:
  • Trade marks and pharmaceutical products: There is concern with the “proliferation of the manufacture, sale, and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in trading partners such as Brazil...Peru...” It noted that there is an increase in the “practice of shipping of counterfeit products separately from labels and packaging in order to evade enforcement efforts.” It gives the example of Russia but later on it refers to Paraguay informing that they do “facilitate these illegal activities by exporting label and packaging components to counterfeit and pirated product assemblers.” It also adds that other countries such as Mexico and China are used as transit of such labels.
  •  Piracy over the Internet and Digital Piracy It is said that the US will work in this area as to strengthen legal regimes and enhance enforcement with countries such as: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela [notice that I referring only to Latin America countries but other countries are also listed]. In this section the USTR reports that even though piracy over the Internet is replacing physical piracy, there is still production of, and trade in, CDs and DVDs and this remains as major problems in many regions such as Paraguay.
  • Governmental Business software: The use of only authorized business software was also in the agenda. Paraguay and Peru appear in this heading as countries that need to adopt an “effective and transparent procedures to ensure legitimate governmental use of software.”
Can we say that Latin America was given the thumb up or thumb down? I believe that as a Region we are on the list! And unfortunately this is something not to be proud of. But who are not in the list? There is always light at the end of the tunnel and thus, the region can have a look at other counterparts and neighbours such as Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Uruguay.

1 comment:

Ken said...

I would suggest interpreting this list with a lot more caution. If you go through the submissions that the USTR receives from industry groups (e.g. BSA, PhARMA, IIPA) each year as part of the Special 301 process and then look at the final report, you'll find few differences. In other words, the USTR publishes essentially an unfiltered compilation of these groups' complaints. I'd hardly use the report as a basis to assess policies -- being listed means nothing more than that US industry wants more IP protection, which we already know. A proper assessment of the quality of countries' IP policies would need to be made entirely independently of the 301 reports.