China and Russia are among the world's worst offenders at abusing American companies' intellectual property rights, according to the "Special 301" report released by U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Rob Portman on April 28.
The report said that in total, 13 countries were featured on the list of those most guilty of ripping off U.S. goods. In addition to China and Russia, the 11 other countries on this year's list are Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela.
"This report acknowledges the positive steps that several of our trading partners have taken to strengthen IPR protection over the past year," Portman said. "However, more needs to be done. Our review reveals a continuing need for improvements, particularly with the implementation of effective protection and enforcement against piracy and counterfeiting," he said.
Not for the first time, the USTR report placed a special emphasis on a long list of copycat thefts taking place in China. It said the U.S. recognized the efforts of Beijing to curb the problem but said IPR enforcement in China continues to lag "far behind" promises made by top Chinese officials. The report said that for the first time, the USTR office would scrutinize IPR protection and enforcement at the provincial level in China.
Russia is also a "serious concern", the report said. Moscow has taken some steps to curb pirated production of CDs and DVDs, particularly in factories located on government-owned property, but "high levels" of IPR infringement remain at disc plants and on websites.
The report reserved praise for some countries which have cracked down on counterfeit commerce. Pakistan has made "notable progress" by shutting down pirate optical disc factories. Ukraine has implemented new legislation to combat pirate disc production and Brazil is taking steps to improve IPR enforcement. In East Asia, the USTR report said Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan had all made progress against retail counterfeiting, Internet piracy and pirated disc production.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006