The US Trade Representative’s Office has added Bulgaria and Belarus to its IPR watchlist.
These and a number of other measures taken by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) were cited in the 2023 Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of protecting US trading partners and protecting intellectual property rights.
In preparing this year’s Report, USTR has verified up-to-date information on more than 100 trading partners and placed 22 of them on the Priority Watch List and 7 on the Watch List.
In this Report, trading partners on the Priority Watch List are of greatest concern due to insufficient protection of intellectual property rights or the presence of regulations or actions that in one way or another restrict access to the market for those involved in the protection of intellectual property rights. The priority watch list includes countries such as Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Venezuela.
Watchlist countries: Algeria, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Belarus was added to the Watch List in response to the country’s passing of a law legalizing the unlicensed use of certain copyrighted works originating in countries that have sanctioned Belarus for its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The report states that the government of Belarus can keep royalties from this unlicensed use and transfer these funds to its general budget. That is, the Lukashenka regime will receive direct financial benefits from these actions.
The USTR has also added Bulgaria to the Watch List due to the insufficient level of investigation and punishment of cases of online piracy. In particular, it is understood that criminal investigations are opened in this country, examinations and trials are carried out only in relation to the revealed facts of violations. The USTR reported that this year the office will again conduct extraordinary monitoring to assess whether Bulgaria has made significant progress in this area.
The report notes that there are still many serious problems in the field of intellectual property rights protection in China. In 2022, China continued to amend the Patent Law, Copyright Law, and Criminal Law. However, the pace of reforms to address intellectual property issues has slowed down.
The 2023 USTR Special Report 301 on Enforcing the Intellectual Property Rights of U.S. Trading Partners also mentions a continuation of last year’s suspension of Ukraine’s intellectual property enforcement due to the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022.
Source : Media Sat