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It’s s301 time: here’s who’s up, and who’s down

The US government has published its annual list naming and shaming countries that it claims have failed to protect the IP rights of its citizens and companies

The US Trade Representative invites comments from IP users and owners as part of its research process: this year it says it received 42 comments from interested parties and 18 submissions from trading partners.

High on the list of concerns is what it calls “indigenous innovation” policies that may unfairly disadvantage US rights holders in China, and the continuing challenges of copyright piracy over the internet in countries such as Canada, Italy, and Russia.

On the 2012 Priority Watch List are Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela.

But it highlights a number of countries for praise: copyright reforms in Malaysia that increase the role of ISPs in tackling online infringement and preventing the circumvention of technological protection measures are lauded, as is Israel’s decision to enact a law against the unfair commercial use and unauthorised disclosure of test data generated to obtain marketing approval of pharmaceutical products.

China is also praised for putting Vice-Premier Wang Qishan in charge of overseeing IP enforcement.

But the country is criticised for failing to implement a consistent policy for tackling counterfeiting, with different regions imposing their own regimes, and in some cases demonstrating local protectionism.

India is told that the US will “closely monitor” developments relating to the compulsory licensing of patents after the country’s Controller of Patents granted local company Natco a compulsory licence over Bayer’s cancer-treating drug sorafenib.

This year’s report emphasises how the US is working with countries that appear on its list. No longer does it just highlight their sub-optimal IP practices: now it helps them to reform.

“[We] conduct extensive discussions with individual trading partners regarding their respective IPR regimes; encourage those trading partners to engage fully, and with the greatest degree of transparency, with the range of stakeholders on IPR matters; and identify, where possible, ways in which the United States can be of assistance.”

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