Friday, April 25, 2008

Canada's "301" Demotion

Well, the US Official “301" report came out today - by sheer coincidence just in time for the Public Policy Forum Symposium on April 28, 2008 to which I have been uninvited.

Interestingly, Canada has been demoted from the suggested “priority” status.

According to USTR,
There are nine (9) countries on this year’s Priority Watch List: China, Russia, Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela. Countries on the Priority Watch List do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection, in absolute terms and/or relative to a range of factors such as their level of development. Priority Watch List countries will be the subject of particularly intense engagement through bilateral discussion during the coming year.

Thirty-six (36) trading partners are on the lower level Watch List, meriting bilateral attention to address IPR problems: Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
There are some interesting differences here from the draft that the IIPA submitted back in February, based upon which I debated the author of the Canada portion, Steve Metalitz, at Fordham on April 28, 2008.

So - Canada was passed over from the Priority List and is merely on the “lower level Watch List.” Israel, on the other hand, has been elevated.

Clearly, I must have persuaded Mr. Metalitz and the several US Government officials at Fordham of the errors of their ways ;-)

My Fordham paper points out some of the many problems with the US approach, and ultimately why the USA can fulminate all it wants but cannot legally do anything unilaterally according to th WTO.

My paper also points out why the USA should look in the mirror and why the USA belongs at or near the top of this list for several reasons.

These are among the points I would have made at the PPF Forum Symposium to which I have now been uninvited.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's what the USTR had to say about Canada.

Canada will remain on the Watch List, subject to essential progress on key issues in the coming months. Canada embraced improving IPR protection and enforcement as a priority in the Speech from the Throne in October 2007. The United States looks to the Government of Canada to deliver on these priorities through prompt and effective action on key issues, such as copyright reform and enhanced border enforcement of intellectual property rights. The United States welcomes Canada's continued cooperation on bilateral and multilateral IPR initiatives, and notes progress in the form of Canada's issuance of measures in 2007 to criminalize camcording of copyrighted films in movie theaters. The United States notes its continuing serious concerns, however, with Canada's failure to accede to and implement the WIPO Internet Treaties. The United States also continues to urge Canada to improve its IPR enforcement system to enable authorities to take effective action against the trade in counterfeit and pirated products within Canada, as well as curb the volume of infringing products transshipped and transiting through Canada. Canada's weak border measures continue to be a serious concern for IP owners. The United States hopes that Canada will implement legislative changes to provide a stronger border enforcement system by giving its customs officers ex officio authority to seize products suspected of being pirated or counterfeit without the need for a court order. The provision of additional resources and training to customs officers and domestic law enforcement personnel would enhance IPR enforcement. The United States will continue to monitor Canada's progress in providing an adequate and effective IPR protection and enforcement regime, including improved border enforcement and near term accession to and implementation of the WIPO Internet Treaties.

If you wish, you can pay good money to have this reiterated numerous times at the forthcoming Public Policy Forum Symposium or the Insight Conference in Toronto next month.

Or, you can read it above, for what it's worth.


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