On April 25, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released both its annual Special 301 Report and an updated Notorious Markets List, each of which highlights international issues facing U.S. intellectual property owners living in the United States and abroad. The Special 301 Report this year includes 36 countries that have been placed on watch lists for either inadequate IP protections or denying IP rights to U.S. rights holders. Similarly, the Notorious Markets List includes a non-exhaustive collection of online and physical markets that are alleged to have contributed to piracy and counterfeiting activities around the world. The Special 301 Report makes it clear that China is the source of greatest concern for U.S. owners of all types of intellectual property. The report’s executive summary notes that China remains on the USTR’s Priority Watch List for various reasons, including forced tech transfer, discriminatory licensing practices and high-volume counterfeit manufacture. Other countries included on the Priority Watch List are India, where the national government has restricted transparency on state-issued pharmaceutical manufacturing licenses and expanded patentability exceptions for rejecting pharmaceutical patents; Indonesia, where concerns have been raised over patentability criteria and compulsory licensing; and Saudi Arabia, which has failed to address concerns involving lack of IP protection for pharmaceuticals and the illicit pirate service BeoutQ.
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