The Office of the United States Trade Representative has released the 2016 Special 301 Report on the global state of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. This is the final such report that will be released during the Obama Administration. The annual review looked at 73 trading partners, placing 34 of them on the Priority Watch List or Watch List. Eleven countries are on the Priority Watch List including the major and growing box office markets of China, Russia, Argentina and Venezuela. They will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.
“Each year, the U.S. film and television industry supports 1.9 million American jobs, $121 billion in total wages, and nearly 89,000 small businesses — generating $16.3 billion in exports that fuel our nation’s global competitiveness,” said Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO, Senator Christopher Dodd. “However, as highlighted in the Special 301 Report, our industry continues to face many challenges in foreign markets that lack adequate and effective protections for intellectual property rights. We are grateful for the USTR’s ongoing commitment to stand with the individuals and small businesses whose hard work and creativity drive our industry.”
China, the world’s fastest growing box office market, remains on the Priority Watch List, despite having undertaken wide-ranging intellectual property law reform efforts and some positive enforcement initiatives. The USTR says that both longstanding and new IPR concerns merit increased attention. That’s especially true with regard to trade secret theft, rampant online piracy and continued high levels of physical pirated and counterfeit goods.
In something of a surprise, Switzerland has been added to the Watch List this year. The USTR said, “While Switzerland is generally a strong partner on IP issues, copyright holders have essentially been prevented from enforcing their rights against online infringers and Switzerland has become an increasingly popular host country for infringing websites.”
Areas of progress, the report said, include Pakistan, Ecuador, Tajikistan, Belarus and Trinidad & Tobago.
“Intellectual property is a critical source of economic growth and high-quality jobs for the United States, and it is more important than ever to prevent foreign governments and competitors from ripping off United States innovators who are trying to support high-paying jobs by exporting their goods and services to consumers around the world,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.