KUWAIT CITY, April 27, (Agencies): The Offi ce of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) retained Kuwait on the 2016 Priority Watch List. This came in the annual Special 301 Report that the offi ce released recently.
Through this report, the USTR evaluates the adequacy and effectiveness of US trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).
China, Russia and India are among 11 countries targeted by the Obama administration for leaving American producers of music, movies and other copyrighted material open to rampant piracy. The US is placing these 11 countries on the Priority Watch List that subjects them to extra scrutiny and could lead to sanctions if the US brings cases to the World Trade Organization. Aside from Kuwait; Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela are on the list again.
In November 2014, Kuwait was elevated from the Watch List at the conclusion of an Out of Cycle Review (OCR). USTR orders OCR to expressly monitor a country’s progress on IPR and other trade issues under threat of punitive action in the absence of desirable outcomes.
At the time, Kuwait failed to introduce to the National Assembly a copyright law consistent with international standards, and had not resumed effective enforcement against copyright and trademark infringement. Although Kuwaiti officials initially took steps to resume enforcement following the announcement of the 2014 OCR, effective enforcement actions have reportedly significantly decreased since June 2015, particularly against trade in counterfeit goods.
The US awaits improvements in copyright and trademark enforcement and the passage of longoverdue copyright legislation that is consistent with Kuwait’s international commitments. The US is ready to work with Kuwait toward resolving these important issues.
According to US Trade Representative Michael Froman, “it is more important than ever to prevent foreign governments and competitors from ripping off United States innovators.” Meanwhile, Ecuador and Pakistan were removed from the list this year. Ecuador reinstated criminal penalties for large-scale counterfeiting, while Pakistan set up intellectual property courts.