The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) is seeking comments from the public to assist in its annual "Special 301" review of the adequacy and effectiveness of US trading partners' protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).
The Special 301 process presents an opportunity to raise with the US government challenges facing companies in specific countries that deny adequate protection for IPR or who deny fair and equitable market access to US businesses and organizations that rely on intellectual property protection. Companies and organizations that are experiencing piracy, counterfeiting and other forms of IPR theft will want to submit written comments and may want to testify at the hearing.
The 2010 Special 301 review process will follow this timetable:
- Tuesday, February 16, 2010 (by 5:00 p.m. EST) — Deadline for interested parties, except for foreign governments, to submit written comments, requests to testify at the Special 301 Public Hearing, and hearing statements.
- Tuesday, February 23, 2010 (by 5:00 p.m. EST) — Deadline for foreign governments to submit written comments, requests to testify at the Special 301 Public Hearing, and hearing statements.
- Wednesday, March 3, 2010, and additional days from March 4-8, 2010, as necessary — The Special 301 Committee Public Hearing for interested parties, including representatives of foreign governments, will be held at the US International Trade Commission, 500 E St. S.W., Washington, DC 20436.
- On or about April 30, 2010 — In accordance with statutory requirements, USTR will publish the 2010 Special 301 Report on or about April 30, 2010.
USTR requests that written comments or testimony identify those countries that deny adequate and effective protection for IPR or deny fair and equitable market access to US persons who rely on intellectual property protection. Where relevant, submissions should mention particular regions, provinces, states, or other subdivisions of a country in which an act, policy, or practice is believed to warrant special attention. Submissions may report positive or negative developments with respect to these sub-national entities.
The Special 301 Report was put into effect in 1989 in accordance with the provisions of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. In 2009, USTR and the interagency IPR team reviewed 77 trading partners for the Special 301 Report. Based on concerns with the adequacy of IPR enforcement, the USTR placed 46 trading partners on the Priority Watch List, the Watch List, or on Section 306 monitoring.