For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Special 301 Report's special one is Italy this year: are administrative enforcement models the way to go?

Via a very special Katfriend and friend of this Kat's, comes the news that today the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) released its 2014 Special 301 ['301' as per Section 301 of the Trade Act 1974 as amended] Report

As IPKat readers will probably know and as Wikipedia explains, this annual report first published in 1989 [see here for last year's one] identifies trade barriers to US companies and products due to IP laws in other countries, and - among other things - includes a list of countries which do not provide "adequate and effective[Merpel knows that there are things that are effective but may not be adequate, yet wonders whether also the other way around is possible] protection of IP rights.

This year's Report identifies a wide range of concerns of the Obama Administration, including: (a) the deterioration of IPR protection, enforcement and market access for persons relying on IPR in a number of trading partners; (b) reported inadequacies in trade secret protection in China, India, and elsewhere, as well as an increasing incidence of trade secret misappropriation; (c) troubling 'indigenous innovation' policies that may unfairly disadvantages US rightholders in China; (d) the continuing challenges of copyright piracy over the internet in countries such as Brazil, China, India, and Russia; (e) market access barriers, including non-transparent, discriminatory or otherwise trade-restrictive measures, that appear to impede access to healthcare; and (f) other ongoing, systemic IPR enforcement issues in many trading partners around the world.


USTR finds that trade secret
protection remains an issue,
especially when it comes
to cat food recipes
Bad news first. In 2014 10 countries are on the Priority Watch List and 27 countries are on the Watch List. Several countries, including Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Turkey, have been listed every year since the Report’s inception.

Now: the good news. Since 1989, there has been significant progress in IP protection in a variety of contries, such as Korea [yet Merpel suspects that the Korea the Report has in mind is South Korea], Australia, Israel, Japan, Qatar, Spain, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. 

This year, two countries have been removed from the Watch List for the first time. They are the Philippines and Italy.

The former has been removed on consideration of the "sustained actions that the Philippine government has undertaken to improve intellectual property rights protection and civil and administrative enforcement". 

This Kat's native land Italy has been removed "in recognition of its latest effort, addressing copyright piracy over the Internet." 

Of course, what the Report has in mind is adoption by this blog's favourite administrative authority, ie AGCOM [#GoGoAGCOM], of its "long-awaited regulations [here] to combat copyright piracy over the Internet." 


AGCOM-administered
enforcement in progress
Still according to the Report, "[t]he regulations, which entered into force on March 31, 2014, provide notice- and-takedown procedures that incorporate due process safeguards and establish a mechanism for addressing large-scale piracy [click here for a Katreport on AGCOM's first blocking order]. The adoption and entry into force of these regulations is a significant achievement, resulting from intensive efforts over many years, which the United States strongly welcomes. We look forward to continuing to work with Italy on our shared commitment to IPR protection and enforcement, and will closely monitor Italy’s implementation of these regulations."

Considering USTR's enthusiasm for Italy's enforcement reform [also acknowledged by IFPI in its 2014 Digital Music Report, noted here], the question now is whether this model will be imported by other countries around the world. In other words: is (usually faster) administrative-based enforcement of IP rights - especially copyright - the way to go? 

This Kat suspects that other countries in Europe and elsewhere may envisage adopting solutions similar to AGCOM's regulations. To find other examples, it may be sufficient to look at current Spanish IP reform plans or site blocking in Malaysia. In all this, however, it is also quite interesting to recall that in its very recent 2-week public consultation on online copyright enforcement, Singapore acknowledged the need for improving the enforcement framework, yet rejected graduated response and administrative models, in that they "may not be suitable in Singapore's context as they are too intrusive on internet users".  

No comments:

Subscribe to the IPKat's posts by email here

Just pop your email address into the box and click 'Subscribe':