U.S. Removes Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland from IP Watch List, Condemns Russia for Weak IP Protection

May 24 2010 - 12:06

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) annual Special 301 report examining the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection around the world, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have made significant progress regarding IP laws and enforcement, while Russia still remains on the priority watch list.

USTR reviewed 77 trading partners for this year’s report, released on April 30, 2010, and placed 11 countries on the Priority Watch List, 29 on the Watch List, and one on the Section 306 monitoring list.

“I am pleased that this year’s Special 301 Report will highlight several successes in the fight against intellectual property theft. The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland have taken significant steps to clamp down on piracy and counterfeiting and will be removed from the Watch List,” said Ambassador Ron Kirk.

According to the report, the Czech Republic was removed from the list because of significant progress made in controlling its borders. Moreover, a new criminal code, which came into force January 1, 2010, raised the maximum penalties for IPR related crimes from 2 to 8 years imprisonment.

Hungary has done a great deal to address Internet piracy, while its customs and police officials have improved their ability to identify counterfeit products. According to the report, Hungary has successfully closed the notorious counterfeit goods market in the Verseny street in Budapest and has taken effective measures to protect IPR by organizing numerous public awareness-raising campaigns and training seminars for police, prosecutors and judges.

The USTR recognized Poland’s effort in reducing the number of pirated and counterfeit goods at borders, improving IPR enforcement efforts and addressing the Internet piracy problem.

Belarus, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan are Eastern European/CIS countries that still remain on the Watch List, and the U.S. will continue to assist these countries in their efforts to strengthen their IPR protection and enforcement regimes.

Russia is among 11 countries on the Priority Watch List that “do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection”. The report underlines that the rights holders continue to report counterfeiting of trademarked goods as a problem, especially for consumer goods, distilled spirits, agricultural chemicals, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.

The report mentions the Gorbushka consumer electronics market in Moscow that offers illegal optical disks, noting that they are less obviously displayed than in previous years. The report also indicates that pirated goods are more widely and openly available at the Savelovskiy electronics market in Moscow. On a positive note, the report recognizes a decline in business software piracy and an increase in legal DVD sales in Russia, partly due to increased law enforcement in this area, including a 2008 ban on camcorders in movie theaters.

For more information, please contact Jelena Jankovic at our Balkan Regional Office.

Source: Special 301 Report 2010

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