Copyright Law Updates | New Proposed Legislation
January 26, 2009
Hatch, Baucus Legislation Seeks to Protect U.S. Intellectual Property Rights Abroad
International Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement Act of 2008
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and senior panel member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have unveiled legislation that will reduce the theft of U.S. intellectual property around the world—including the piracy of American films, the counterfeiting of American-designed products and other violations of U.S. intellectual property rights (“IPR”) worldwide.
The International Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement Act of 2008 requires the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) to spur countries that violate U.S. intellectual property rights to take specific steps to stop IP violations, provides funds to increase USTR’s capability to work with developing countries to improve IP protection and enforcement, and gives the president powerful enforcement tools to deal with countries that refuse to fight widespread theft of U.S. intellectual property.
Provisions of the Act include:
- Action Plans. The bill requires the USTR to develop an action plan for each foreign country that has remained on USTR’s “Priority Watch List” of intellectual property deficient countries for at least one year. The action plan must list the legislative, enforcement, or other actions that the foreign country must take in order to achieve adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, and fair and equitable market access for U.S. companies that rely on intellectual property protection.
- Enforcement Actions. If a foreign country has not complied with its action plan within one year, the bill authorizes the President to take various enforcement actions against the country. These actions include (1) prohibiting federal government procurement from the foreign country; (2) prohibiting new financing by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of the United States with respect to projects in, or exports to, the foreign country; and (3) withdrawing any preferential treatment for which the foreign country qualifies under the Generalized System of Preferences or other U.S. preference programs.
- Developing Country Assistance. The bill authorizes appropriations to USTR to assist developing countries in complying with their action plans. Such assistance may include capacity building, activities designed to increase awareness of intellectual property rights, and training for officials responsible for enforcing intellectual property rights in the developing country.
- Congressional Report. The bill requires USTR to include, in its annual “Special 301” report, a description of the action plan developed for each country and the actions taken by each country pursuant to that plan.
- Intellectual Property Officials. The bill requires the President to ensure that intellectual property officials are placed in the U.S. embassy of each foreign country that has a commercially significant relationship with the United States. The official will (1) serve as a liaison between the United States and the foreign country on matters relating to intellectual property protection and enforcement; and (2) gather and provide information requested by USTR for purposes of developing or determining compliance with the intellectual property action plans.
The Baucus-Hatch bill is expected to be referred to the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. trade policy.
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