Fighting the Global Scourge of IP Theft

Article excerpt

What do Ukraine, China and Paraguay have in common? They all head the list of countries chastised by the Bush administration for failing to crack down on what it calls a "global scourge" of intellectual property theft, which costs U.S. industries up to $250 billion per year.

According to the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)--the nation's chief trade negotiator and principal trade policy advisor to the President--52 U.S. trading partners have been told they must improve measures for protecting U.S. intellectual properly within their borders, especially digital media products and pharmaceuticals, or face possible trade sanctions.

The list is part of the USTR's 2004 Special 301 annual review, which examines the adequacy* and effectiveness of intellectual property protection in some 85 countries. This year's review pays close attention to countries' need to improve their enforcement against counterfeiting and piracy, especially concerning the unauthorized reproduction of optical media products such as CDs, DVDs and CD-ROMs. The USTR review also focuses on Internet piracy, proper implementation of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement by World Trade Organization (WTO) members, and encouraging foreign government ministries to use only authorized copies of software.

Ukraine was singled out as the sole "Priority Foreign Country" for its ongoing failure to reign in IP theft within its borders. This continued failure to protect IP rights, the review says, will not only perpetuate the $75 million in trade sanctions that have been imposed by the United States since January 2002, but it will also jeopardize Ukraine's entry into the WTO and discourage outside trade and investment. The Ukrainian government has yet to pass any of the amendments it has drafted to improve its existing Optical Disc Licensing Law, so criminal penalties for piracy remain too small to act as an effective deterrent. Moreover, Ukraine's poor border controls make it a major trans-shipment point for bootlegged optical media products produced in Russia and elsewhere.

After Ukraine, addressing IP their in China--one of the world's leading exporters of counterfeit and pirated goods--was cited as a top priority for the USTR. …

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