The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) needs to change the procedures it uses to put countries on a special “watch list” for failing to protect U.S. intellectual property interests, Public Knowledge Staff Attorney Rashmi Rangnath testified today.
Speaking at the USTR hearing on the “special 301” intellectual property proceeding, Rangnath said the agency should 1) be mindful of the importance of balance to U.S. copyright law and to promote this same balanced system abroad; 2) not use the Special 301 process as a means to force countries to accede to or implement treaties; and 3) introduce greater transparency into its review process. The full written statement is here.
One of the dangers of the process, she said, is that there is no public explanation of how a country gets put on the list, which could lead to trade sanctions. Nor is there any evaluation of industry-submitted evidence on which the judgment is based.
Public Knowledge recommended that USTR make transparent the set of factors and standards it uses for evaluating countries in each year’s Special 301 Report, provide a clear written explanation stating the basis for identification of a country in the Special 301 report and placement on the watch list or priority watch list, or for an out-of cycle review and arrange for independent external verification of country data and statistics submitted by industry sources before making factual determinations based upon that evidence.
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