President’s 301 Report Calls For Stronger Copyright and Trademark Protections

The 2015 Special 301 Report on the state of intellectual property rights (“IPR”) has few surprises. In general, it calls for more and stronger protections and recognizes globalization needs to be addressed. As per the summary:

This Report reflects the Administration’s continued resolve to encourage and maintain adequate and effective IPR protection and enforcement worldwide. The Report identifies a wide range of concerns, including: (a) the deterioration in IPR protection, enforcement, and market access for persons relying on IPR in a number of trading partners; (b) reported inadequacies in trade secret protection in China, India, and elsewhere, as well as an increasing incidence of trade secret misappropriation; (c) troubling “indigenous innovation” policies that may unfairly disadvantage U.S. rights holders in China; (d) the continuing challenges of online copyright piracy in countries such as Brazil, China, India, and Russia and trademark counterfeiting in China and elsewhere; (e) market access barriers, including nontransparent and discriminatory measures, that appear to impede access to products embodying IPR and measures that impede market access for U.S. entities that rely upon IPR protection; and (f) other ongoing, systemic IPR enforcement issues in many trading partners around the world.

There are a few interesting insights. Under a review of digital piracy, the report notes:

[P]iracy over the Internet has become the priority copyright enforcement issue… The availability of, and recourse by rights holders to enforcement procedures and remedies is a critical component of the online ecosystem. … Governments should avoid creating a domestic environment that offers a safe haven for piracy on the Internet.

The report then goes on to call out Switzerland specifically which recently exempted private use downloading of content from copyright enforcement and states:

The United States strongly urges Switzerland to demonstrate its commitment to provide robust copyright protection and to combat online piracy by taking concrete steps to ensure that rights holders can protect their rights.

And there is a notable reference to increased problematic criminal activity in Switzerland with the opening of the gates to private level piracy, which is no surprise.  If you freely allow unlimited minor theft on a large scale, the proverbial “million tiny cuts” eventually become lethal.

The report also brings up two very interesting points with respect to globalization and IPR. There is a relation of the importance of IPR and the environment:

Strong IPR protection and enforcement are essential to promoting investment in innovation in the environmental sector. Such innovation not only promotes economic growth and supports jobs, but also is critical to responding to environmental challenges. IPR provides incentives for R&D in this important sector, including through university research. Conversely, inadequate IPR protection and enforcement in foreign markets discourages entry into technology transfer arrangements in those markets. This may hinder the realization of the technological advances needed to meet environmental challenges, including the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change.

And there is a relation of the importance of the social impact of IPR and health:

IPR protection plays an important role in providing the incentives necessary for the development and marketing of new medicines. An effective, transparent, and predictable IPR system is necessary for both manufacturers of innovative medicines and manufacturers of generic medicines.

In summary, the report presents a picture that calls for stronger protections of intellectual property rights, accountability for countries, and outlines that stronger protections further the interests of all parties economically, environmentally and socially.


For Full Text: 2015 Special 301 Report



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