Russia and Ukraine on Special 301 Report Priority Watch List
Russia and Ukraine are on the list of worst IP offenders in the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) latest Special 301 report, which evaluates IPR protection in the United States’ trading partners on a yearly basis.
Russia has been on the Priority Watch List for 16 straight years, while Ukraine has been moved from the Watch List to the Priority Watch List.
The USTR has placed Russia on the Priority Watch List mainly due to the widespread piracy over the Internet and the inadequate IPR enforcement. While the software piracy rates declined in 2011, stronger enforcement is required in the book/journal publishing, entertainment software, motion picture and movie industries. The U.S. thus urges Russia to increase the number of IPR-related investigations and impose more rigorous sanctions against piracy and counterfeiting.
The report also notes the widespread practice of producing counterfeit goods and labels in separate locations outside of Russia to avoid detection. For example, the infringers in Russia reportedly import products without labels and afterwards export the finished, labeled products to various countries.
The US also expresses concern about the increase in manufacture, sale, and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Russia.
On the positive note, it has been noted that Russia:
- Enacted laws to establish a specialized arbitration court for IP disputes by February 2013;
- Amended the Criminal Code expanding criminal liability for copyright infringement;
- Initiated legal proceedings against the movie-download website Interfilm.ru and Russia’s largest social network vKontakte;
- Made progress in terms of implementing controls on optical media production and led several significant actions against pirated optical disc producers and distributors
- Took steps toward combating counterfeit drugs through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Health and the Federal Service for Intellectual Property
The only other Eastern European country placed on the Priority Watch List is Ukraine. As stated in the report, “Ukraine made minimal progress in implementing its 2010 IPR action plan commitments, including addressing the government’s use of unlicensed software, amending the copyright law, and increasing enforcement. Ukraine has also done little to address counterfeiting and piracy, and in some cases took steps backwards.”
The U.S. urges Ukraine to address piracy over the Internet and improve its judicial system, which suffers from significant delays, a lack of expertise and inadequate sanctions for IPR infringement.
Author: Jelena Jankovic
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Source: USTR 2012 Special 301 Report
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