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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has just announced the results of the “Special 301″ annual review report, which studies the adequacy of intellectual property protection in multiple dozens of countries. Unfortunately, in addition to one “priority foreign country,” the report places 16 countries on a “priority watch list” and another 32 countries on a “watch list.” The report also explains the need to combat Internet piracy. THE PRIORITY FOREIGN COUNTRY Ukraine is listed as a priority foreign country by the report because of its “persistent failure to take effective action against significant levels of optical media piracy and to implement intellectual property laws that provide adequate and effective protection.” As a consequence, the report notes that the $75 million in sanctions imposed on Ukranian products on Jan. 23 will remain in place. The report also states that Ukraine’s failure to properly protect intellectual property rights could “also jeopardize Ukraine’s efforts to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and seriously undermine its efforts to attract trade and investment.” The report nevertheless advised that the U.S. government will be “engaged with Ukraine in encouraging the nation to combat piracy and to enact the necessary intellectual property rights legislation and regulations.” THE PRIORITY WATCH LIST The report places the following countries on the priority watch list: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan and Uruguay. For these countries that have not fully implemented their obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), according to the report, the United States will consider “all options.” THE WATCH LIST Those countries deemed worthy of placement on the Watch List are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belarus, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Vietnam. As to countries such as these, the report notes that the U.S. government will be seeking higher levels of intellectual property protection “in a number of areas.” INTERNET PIRACY The report references the growth of the Internet as a “vehicle for economic expansion” around the world. The report notes the regrettable fact that the Internet “serves as an extremely efficient global distribution network for pirate products.” Thus, as stated by the report, the U.S. government is working with other governments and domestic U.S. industry to “develop the best strategy to address Internet piracy.” As first steps, the report points to two 1996 copyright treaties — the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). These treaties “help raise the minimum standards of intellectual property protection around the world, particularly with respect to Internet-based delivery of copyrighted works.” TO INFINITY AND BEYOND Obviously, countries are not islands unto themselves. Therefore, while intellectual property protection may be available in given countries, it is important to attempt to safeguard IP in other nations. Plainly, much remains to be done. Eric J. Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris, where he focuses on technology and litigation matters. His Web site is sinrodlaw.com and his firm’s site is www.duanemorris.com. Sinrod may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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