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Canada has been listed on a US 'priority watchlist' after concerns were raised about the measures the country has taken to combat online copyright infringement and the trade of counterfeit goods.

In a report into the approach 77 "trading partners" to the US have to the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said 13 countries, including Canada, were on its priority watchlist. Other countries included on the priority list include China, India and Russia.

Countries listed on the priority watchlist are said to have "particular problems ... with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons relying on IPR." Under the US' Trade Act countries that fail to address these problems can be issued with "sanctions".

"Canada remains on the Priority Watch List in 2012, subject to review if Canada enacts long-awaited copyright legislation," USTR said in its report (54-page/382KB PDF). "The government of Canada has given priority to that legislation."

"The United States welcomes that prioritization and looks forward to studying the legislation once it is finalized, and will consider, among other things, whether it fully implements the WIPO Internet Treaties, and whether it fully addresses the challenges of piracy over the internet," it said.

"The United States also continues to urge Canada to strengthen its border enforcement efforts, including by providing customs officials with ex officio authority to take action against the importation, exportation, and transshipment of pirated or counterfeit goods."

"The United States remains concerned about the availability of rights of appeal in Canada’s administrative process for reviewing the regulatory approval of pharmaceutical products, as well as limitations in Canada’s trademark regime. The United States looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with Canada on IPR issues, and will continue to work with the Government of Canada to resolve these and other matters," USTR said.

USTR said internet piracy was of "significant concern in many" countries with which it trades.

"Unauthorized retransmission of live sports telecasts over the Internet continues to be a growing problem for many trading partners, particularly China, and 'linking sites' are exacerbating the problem," it said. "In addition, piracy using new technologies is an emerging problem internationally."

"US copyright industries also report growing problems with piracy using mobile telephones, tablets, flash drives, and other mobile technologies. In some countries, these devices are being pre-loaded with illegal content before they are sold. In addition to piracy of music and films using these new technologies, piracy of ring tones, apps, games, and scanned books also occurs. Recent developments include the creation of 'hybrid' websites that offer counterfeit goods in addition to pirated copyrighted works, in an effort to create a 'one-stop-shop' for users looking for cheap or free content or goods," USTR said.

USTR said IP infringement impacts negatively on businesses, workers and the public.

"Infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR) causes significant financial losses for rights holders and legitimate businesses around the world," the report said. "It undermines key US comparative advantages in innovation and creativity, to the detriment of American businesses and workers. In its most pernicious forms, it endangers the public."

"Some counterfeit products, such as automobile parts and medicines, pose significant risks to consumer health and safety. In addition, trade in counterfeit and pirated products often fuels cross-border organized criminal networks and hinders the sustainable economic development of many countries," it said.

Copyright © 2012, Out-Law.com

Out-Law.com is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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