US Trade Agency suspends review of Ukraine’s intellectual property rights due to war

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WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) – The United States has suspended a trade review of Ukrainian intellectual property practices due to the Russian invasion and removed Saudi and Kuwaiti oil exporters from watch lists due to the improving their protection of intellectual property rights.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in its annual “Special 301” investigation into protecting the intellectual property rights of trading partners that it is keeping China on a priority watch list because of concerns raised about its effectiveness. changes to its patent, copyright and criminal law laws. Last year.

Ukraine was previously on the USTR’s priority watch list – indicating the highest level of concern – due to the use of unlicensed software by Ukrainian government agencies, the lack of effective means to combat against widespread online copyright infringement and concerns about royalty collection.

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“However, due to Russia’s renewed premeditated and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine’s 301 Special Examination has been suspended,” the USTR said in the report.

The USTR also said it removed Saudi Arabia from its priority watch list because of steps the country has taken to publicize intellectual property enforcement procedures, improve judicial training in the area, and fight against counterfeit and pirated products and online content.

He said he had removed Romania, Kuwait and Lebanon from the lower priority watch list due to improvements in IP enforcement, but said he would conduct an out-of-cycle review of Bulgaria to assess whether Sofia is addressing shortcomings in the investigation and prosecution of online piracy cases, “in particular its failure to embrace evidence sampling in criminal cases.”

Regarding China, an USTR official said that while U.S. intellectual property rights holders have welcomed Chinese legal changes enacted last year to meet commitments under the trade deal ” Phase 1″ between the United States and President Donald Trump’s China, these companies have expressed concerns about the “adequacy” of these measures.

The report also said that the USTR was concerned about statements by Chinese officials stressing the importance of intellectual property to China’s drive for market dominance in certain industries and that the courts should serve the Chinese Communist Party and the industrial objectives of the country.

“Taken together, these statements recall long-standing concerns about the requirement and pressure for the transfer of technology from foreign individuals or companies to Chinese companies, as well as whether the protection and enforcement of intellectual property will apply equally to foreign rights holders in China,” reports the USTR. mentioned.

US concerns over intellectual property theft and forced transfers of US technology to Chinese competitors for market access were at the heart of the Trump administration’s ‘Section 301’ tariffs on hundreds of billions dollars of Chinese imports, which were kept in place by the Biden administration.

The USTR said Russia remains on its priority watch list due to persistent challenges, including copyright and trademark infringement and lack of enforcement. However, the USTR said its ability to address these issues was “very limited” due to the war and the sanctions imposed on Russia.

“The United States is also closely monitoring recent Russian proposals to counter international sanctions by allowing the use without compensation of intellectual property owned by rights holders based in countries that have sanctioned Russia,” he said. said the USTR.

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Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Jonathan Oatis Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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