It’s an annual ritual. Every spring, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issues a “Special 301 Report” on the inadequate protection of intellectual property rights by the United States’ trade partners. All sorts of stakeholders—companies, civil groups, trade groups, think tanks, etc.—get to offer input. They point out policies and practices of offenders abroad, and then the USTR compiles it all into one neat report, which you can find here.
So for this year, there’s good news for the U.S. neighbor to the north. It’s been moved from “Priority Watch List” to the mere Watch List. The list specifies companies with egregious IP problems, and an appearance on the list is meant to spark discussions between American trade officials and the designated offenders. Naturally, the inclusion of Canada often sparks lively jokes, usually at Canada’s expense. But we’re a global news site and won’t indulge in that sort of thing.
The report notes that Canada’s improvement comes as part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, the successor to NAFTA. The agreement addresses enforcement against counterfeits, inspection of goods in transit, transparency, and copyright terms. The USTR says that it’s still worried about Canada’s IP regime concerning pharmaceuticals, and some exceptions in its copyright law.
The countries that remain on the Priority Watch List are Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Chine, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Venezuela.