Saturday, 21 February 2009

African Countries Suggested for the USTR Special 301 Report

This week, the IIPA released its 301 Press Release detailing which countries it feels should be placed on the United States Trade Representative's (USTR) Special 301 Report.

The Special Report "highlights shortfalls in intellectual property protection" and "acknowledges progress" by US trading partners.  (For more information on the Special 301 Report, see here.)  Each year, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) submits it's suggestions to the USTR for which countries should be placed on the list.  The IIPA released the 2009 suggestions on Tuesday.  IIPA suggested only two countries from the African continent for inclusion in the Special 301 Report: Egypt (Priority Watch List) and Nigeria (Special Mention).

Egypt: Last year, Egypt was on the Special 301 Watch List.  The IIPA suggests that this year Egypt be placed on the Priority Watch List.

"In Egypt, what should be a shining economic success story of ingenuity and creativity in Egypt’s rich creative industries, instead is a nightmare market for right holders, stunted by piracy, difficult bureaucracy, and almost unparalleled market access hurdles.  Trade losses and piracy levels worsened in 2008 for most industries in Egypt."

The Egypt report goes on to explain some of the reasons for these trade loses.  They include over-broad moral rights and, apparently, the fact that the Egyptian government wants Egyptian citizens to see more Egyptian culture than foreign culture.   [I am not sure how that plays into the national treatment requirements of TRIPs, but it doesn't seem like censorship requirements to ensure imported products meet local laws should be counted in IP trade-loss amounts.]

Nigeria:  Nigeria has not appeared on the Special 301 Report.  This year, the IIPA gives them a Special Mention.

"IIPA submits this Special Mention report on Nigeria to highlight piracy challenges, including high quality counterfeit product, indicating a level of criminal organization not previously detected."

The IIPA concerns for Nigeria focus on increased internet access, the high increase of optical disc replicating plants, and the organized crime nature of Nigeria's pirates.

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