The United States on Friday placed India and eight other countries on the Priority Watch List for IP protection and enforcement.
The other countries that have been put on the list are Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela.
In its “Special 301 Report” on the adequacy and effectiveness of US trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said these countries will be the subject of intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.
“Over the past year, India has remained inconsistent in its progress on intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement. While India’s enforcement of IP in the online sphere has gradually improved, a lack of concrete benefits for innovators and creators persists, which continues to undermine their efforts. India remains one of the world’s most challenging major economies with respect to protection and enforcement of IP,” she said.
The office of the USTR reviewed more than 100 trading partners for this year’s “Special 301 Report”, and eight on Priority Watch List and 23 on the Watch List.
The 23 trading partners on the Watch List are Algeria, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
“Intellectual property rights incentivize our creators, manufacturers, and innovators to invent new products and technologies,” said Katherine Tai.
“The laws, policies and practices that protect those rights must appropriately balance the interests of creators with those seeking to use their creations. Failing to adequately and effectively protect those rights in foreign markets hurts the US economy, the dynamism of American innovators and the livelihoods of our workers,” she said.
Observing that the 2021 Special 301 review period has taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest global health crisis in more than a century, the USTR office said its top priority is saving lives and ending the pandemic in the United States and around the world.
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As affirmed in the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, the United States, while recognising the role of intellectual property protection in the development of new medicines, respects a trading partner’s right to protect public health and, in particular to promote access to medicines for all, it said.
The United States has been closely monitoring China’s progress in implementing its commitments under the United States-China Economic and Trade Agreement.
In 2020, China published several draft IP-related legal and regulatory measures and finalised over a dozen measures.
China amended the patent Law, copyright and criminal laws in the past year. However, these steps toward reform require effective implementation and fall short of the full range of fundamental changes needed to improve the IP landscape in China, the USTR office said.
In India, the USTR said patent issues continue to be of particular concern as long-standing issues remain for innovative industries.
The potential threat of patent revocations, lack of presumption of patent validity and the narrow patentability criteria under the India Patents Act burdens companies across different sectors.
“Moreover, patent applicants continue to confront costly and time-consuming pre and post-grant oppositions, long waiting periods to receive patent approval and excessive reporting requirements. Stakeholders continue to express concerns over vagueness in the interpretation of the India Patents Act,” she added.
She said the US intends to continue to engage with India on IP matters, including through the United States-India Trade Policy Forum’s Intellectual Property Working Group.