Friday, March 03, 2006

Where Are the IP Targets of the President's Trade Policy Agenda and Where is the News in the Trade Report?

Watchers of the US-China IP conflict are starting to yawn, because the president's trade policy agenda 2006 written by Robert J. Portman, US Trade representative, March 1st, provided nothing new about the conflict between the US over intellectual property protection in China.

"Intellectual property theft, counterfeiting, and copyright infringement in China continue to be a source of serious concern for the Administration. Chinese officials have made some progress to protect intellectual property, but the United States will continue to work with the Chinese government to demonstrate more reliable and consistent progress in this area."

No targets, no deadlines, no nothing.

Read here the document.

And the relevant passage in the Trade report itself is a good overview of the last four years, but it does not reveal anything new:

"Intellectual Property
China has undertaken substantial efforts to implement its commitment to overhaul its legal regime to ensure the protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). While the United States continues to work with China in some problem areas, China has done a relatively good job of overhauling its legal regime. However, China has been much less succesful in enforcing its laws and regulations and ensuring the effective IPR enforcement required by the TRIPS Agreement. With most in U.S. industry reporting no significant reduction in IPR infringement levels in 2005, IPR enforcement remains problematic. Counterfeiting and piracy in China remains at epidemic levels and cause serious economic harm to U.S. businesses in virtually every sector of the economy.

The Administration places the highest priority on imporving IPR enforcement in China. Building on its engagement with China at the April 2004 JCCT meeting, the United States took several aggressive steps in 2005 in an effort to obtain meaningful progress. First, the United States conducted an out-of-cycle review under the Special 301 provisions of U.S. trade law, which involved a systematic evaluation of China's entire IPR enforcement regime, supported by submissions from U.S. manufacturers and businesses to document IPR infringement to the extent possible. At the conclusion of this review in April 2005, the Administration elevated China to the Special 301 "Priority Watch"list and set forth a comprehensive strategy for addressing China's ineffective IPR enforcement regime, which included the possible use of WTO mechanisms, as appropriate. The United States immediately began to pursue this strategy during the period prior to the July 2005 JCCT meeting, as the United States sought to strengthen the commitments that China had made at the April 2004 JCCT meeting and to obtain China's commitment for greater involvement of ifts police authorities in IPR enforcement matters.

China subsequently agreed to take a series of specific actions designed to increase criminial prosecutions of IPR violators, improve enforcement at the border, counter piracy of movies, audio-visual products and software, address Internet-related piracy and assist small- and medium-sized U.S. companies experiencing China-related IPR problems, among other things. Becuase lack of transparancy on IPR infringement levels and enforcement activities in China has hampered the United States'ability to assess the effectiveness of China's efforts to improve IPR enforcement since the April 2004 JCCT meeting, the United States also submitted a request to Chinaunder Article 63.3 of the TRIPS Agreement in October 2005. The United States' request, made in conjunction with similar requests by Japan and Switzerland, seeks detailed information from China on its IPR enforcement efforts over the last four years. China's response to these requests, anticipated in early 2006, will help the United States to further evaluate whether China is taking all necessary steps to address the rampant IPR infringement found throughout China.

The United States is committed to working constructively with China to significantly reduce IPR infringement levels in China and continues to devote extra staff and resources, both in Washington and in Beijing, to address the many aspects of this problem. At the same time, the United States remains prepared to take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to ensure that China develops and implements an effective system of IPR enforcement, as required by the TRIPS Agreement."

Read the report pages 173 and174 here.

China reacted March, 2nd: "Should there be disputes or problems in the economic and trade area, or in the area of intellectual property right protection, we hope to appropriately solve them through an attitude of equality, development and cooperation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular press briefing stressing not to politize the bilateral trade issues with the US. Read the TMCNet article here.

with a here

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