How Safe is Intellectual Property Overseas?

A report issued Friday by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) outlines a roadmap for addressing International Property Rights (IPR) concerns with global trading partners.

In the annual “Special 301” report, the USTR identifies countries that need to take stronger actions to combat piracy and recognizes a number of countries that have made substantial progress, pursuant to the Trade Act of 1974.

The Trade Act was signed into law in January 1975 and grants the U.S. president authority to enter into International agreements to reduce import barriers.

The 2006 USTR report places 48 countries on the United States “watch” and “monitor” lists. The Priority Level Watch List currently includes Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Venezuela.

“Although this year’s Special 301 report shows positive progress in many countries, rampant counterfeiting and piracy problems continue to plague both China and Russia, indicating a critical need for stronger intellectual property protection in China and Russia,” the USTR notes in an executive summary of the report.

The USTR maintains that Chinese IPR enforcement lags behind several commitments that the country entered into during the 2004 US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

In accordance with the JCCT agreement, China agreed to expand its anti-piracy initiative, increase criminal prosecution, and begin fighting software end-user piracy.

In addition, “in October 1998 the United States announced an Executive order directing…USTR to undertake an initiative to work with other governments, particularly those in need of modernizing their software management systems. Most recently the US welcomed the April 22, 2006 agreement by China that it will require computers to be pre-installed with licensed operating system software…”

As a result of the software license agreement, China’s largest PC maker, Lenovo, inked a deal with Microsoft this month to pre-install Microsoft operating systems on all computers made in China.

Read the rest of this PC Magazine story: “How Safe is Intellectual Property Overseas?”

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