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The US has published a blacklist of those of its trading partners that are most ineffective when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights (IPRs). The "Special 301" report from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) fingers Ukraine as the worst offender.

The report, published annually by the Office of the USTR, identifies those countries that deny adequate and effective protection for IPRs or deny fair and equitable market access for those that rely on intellectual property protection.

It places countries into a hierarchy of categories, with the ranking of Priority Foreign Country reserved for the worst situations ? described by the USTR as "countries that fail to enter into good faith negotiations or make significant progress in bilateral or multilateral negotiations to provide adequate and effective protection of IPR".

Such nations face the possible threat of trade sanctions. Currently, the Ukraine is the only country in the category, and is subject to sanctions valued at $75m.

The second highest ranking is the Priority Watch List, followed by the Watch List. Countries are placed on these Lists when there are particular problems in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for those relying on intellectual property.

This year's report puts 14 US trading partners on the Priority Watch List: Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela.

Thirty-six trading partners have been placed on the Watch List, meriting bilateral attention to address the underlying IPR problems: Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belarus, Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, European Union, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

The report also announced the results of a special Out-of-Cycle Review of China's intellectual property regime, concluding that infringement levels remain unacceptably high throughout China, in spite of Beijing's efforts to reduce them.

"This year, we are elevating China to the Priority Watch List for failure to effectively protect intellectual property rights and to meet its commitment to significantly reduce infringement levels, despite efforts by China's senior leadership to do so," said Acting US Trade Representative Peter Allgeier. "China must take action to address rampant piracy and counterfeiting, including increasing the number of criminal IPR cases and further opening its market to legitimate copyright and other goods."

Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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