US targets India, China, Russia, six other nations on copyrights

April 26th, 2008 - 10:54 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 26 (IANS) Accusing India, China, Russia and six other nations of failing to protect American producers of pharmaceuticals, films, computer software and other copyrighted material from widespread piracy, the US has placed them on a “priority watch list”. The nine on the watch list will be “the subject of particularly intense engagement through bilateral discussion during the coming year,” US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said Friday in a Congressionally mandated annual report.

Copyright piracy is “one of the central challenges facing the global economy,” she said. “Pirates and counterfeiters don’t just steal ideas, they steal jobs and too often they threaten our health and safety.”

Besides India, China and Russia, the other seven countries targeted for extra scrutiny were Argentina, Chile, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela. This could eventually lead to economic sanctions - if the administration decides to pursue complaints before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In addition, 36 countries were placed on the lower level “watch list”, meriting bilateral attention to address Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) problems.

Schwab said the report provides a basis for constructive engagement with US trading partners in order to address these challenges, particularly in key countries such as China and Russia. The US also had “significant concerns” with the other seven, including India, where it “remains concerned about inadequate IPR protection and enforcement”.

Piracy remains a serious problem in India, as does trademark counterfeiting, including of pharmaceuticals and distilled spirits, said the report. It urged New Delhi to improve its IPR regime by providing stronger protection for copyrights, trademarks, and patents as well as protection against unfair commercial use of undisclosed test and other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical products.

It also encourageD India to implement the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Internet treaties by strengthening its copyright laws, and to improve its IPR enforcement system by enacting and implementing an effective optical disc licensing scheme to combat optical disc piracy.

India’s criminal IPR enforcement regime remains weak, with improvements needed in the areas of police action against pirates and counterfeiters, expeditious judicial dispositions for copyright and trademark infringement with imposition of deterrent-level sentences for IPR infringers, and stronger border enforcement against counterfeit and pirated goods, it said.

Urging India to strengthen its IPR regime, the report said the US stands ready to work with India on these issues during the coming year through the Trade Policy Forum and other bilateral mechanisms.

The report acknowledged several countries made significant positive progress on IPR protection and enforcement in 2007. For example, India has approved initiating action for accession to the Madrid Protocol.

But US noted its concern with the proliferation of the manufacture of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia.

India, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, were also specially mentioned for “significant problems of piracy” using new technologies such as cellular telephones, palm devices, flash drives, and other mobile technologies.

Besides piracy of music and films using these new technologies, piracy of ring tones, games, telecasts, and scanned books also occurs, it said asking India, Bangladesh, China, Russia, and Thailand to combat pirate optical disc production.

While business groups praised the report, Oxfam, the international aid organization, criticised the document for targeting India and Thailand for their policies of making low-cost generic drugs available to poor people to battle HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

Rohit Malpani, an Oxfam policy adviser, said that 80 percent of the generic drugs used in developing nations to combat AIDS were manufactured in India while Thailand is supplying generic drugs to poor people in that country.

“Thailand is reducing the costs of key medicines to treat AIDS, cancer and heart disease and India has become the pharmacy for the developing world. What the administration is doing is completely inappropriate,” he said, arguing that both countries have the right to do what they are doing under global trade rules.

Under rules supported by the WTO, countries can issue so-called compulsory licenses to disregard patent rights, but only after negotiating with the patent owners and paying them adequate compensation. If they declare a public health emergency, governments can skip the negotiating.

Business groups praised the administration’s new report with the Copyright Alliance, a coalition of industry groups, saying stronger efforts were needed to attack global piracy, which it estimated was costing the US economy $58 billion a year and nearly 375,000 lost jobs.

Robert Holleyman, president of the Business Software Alliance, said piracy remained the software industry’s biggest trade barrier, costing nearly $40 billion a year.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |