From the Office of U.S. Trade Representative:
On the heels of World Intellectual Property Day, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released the 2016 “Special 301” Report on the global state of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman was joined by Members of Congress and the American business community in order to unveil the report, which is the last that will be released during the Obama Administration.
According to estimates, approximately 70 percent of the value of our publicly traded companies is attributable to their “intangible assets”— or IPR. In 2010, the value added of U.S.-held IPR was approximately $5 trillion, contributing 34 percent to our Gross Domestic Product. Protection and enforcement of IPR around the globe directly and indirectly support an estimated 40 million U.S. jobs in IP-intensive industries. Those jobs pay on average 42 percent higher wages than other jobs.
Significant elements of the 2016 Special 301 Report include the following:
- USTR continues to place China on the Priority Watch List. China has undertaken wide-ranging intellectual property law reform efforts and some positive enforcement initiatives, but both longstanding and new IPR concerns merit increased attention including with respect to trade secret theft, rampant online piracy and counterfeiting, continued high levels of physical pirated and counterfeit goods, and localization requirements that condition market access on use of IPR developed in or transferred to China.
- India also remains on the Priority Watch List this year for lack of sufficient measurable improvements to its IPR framework despite more robust engagement and positive steps forward on IPR protection and enforcement undertaken by the Government of India. USTR retains the option of conducting an OCR of India should developments—either positive or negative—weigh in favor of a review in advance of the annual cycle.
- USTR adds Switzerland to the Watch List this year. While Switzerland is generally a strong partner on IP issues, copyright holders have essentially been prevented from enforcing their rights against online infringers and Switzerland has become an increasingly popular host country for infringing websites.
- USTR also announces that it will conduct OCRs for Colombia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Spain to promote engagement and progress on specific IPR opportunities and challenges identified in this year’s review.
- The Report and the lists it contains are dynamic, reflecting the progress made by our trading partners to resolve and address IPR issues of concern to the United States and the United States’ continued resolve to focus on priority issues. Areas of progress include:
- Pakistan has taken significant steps to improve IPR protection and enforcement including establishing specialized IPR courts, establishing a timeline to draft and implement amendments to IPR laws, improving border enforcement procedures, undertaking public awareness programs on IPR protection, and committing to regular action-oriented engagement with the U.S. government and stakeholders. As a result Pakistan is upgraded from the Priority Watch List to the Watch List with an OCR to monitor ongoing progress.
- Ecuador reinstated criminal procedures and penalties for commercial scale counterfeiting and piracy which was the basis for downgrading Ecuador to the Priority Watch List in 2015.
- Tajikistan, Belarus and Trinidad & Tobago are removed from the Watch List this year for improvements to enforcement of IPR including in the areas of customs enforcement, criminal prosecutions, and broadcast piracy, respectively.
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Previously Reports From USTR