The US Intellectual Property Watch List: The Global Perspective

The USTR released its Special 301 report on Monday with the unsurprising inclusion of Canada on the Priority Watch List.  The list is designed to bully countries around the world to cave to U.S. demands on intellectual property reform and enforcement. In fact, this year’s report indicates that the U.S. is willing to make everyone the proverbial offer they can’t refuse:

USTR is announcing that it invites any trading partner appearing on the Special 301 Priority Watch List or Watch List to work with the United States to develop a mutually agreed action plan designed to lead to that trading partner’s removal from the relevant list. Agreement on such a plan will not by itself change a trading partner’s status in the Special 301 Report.

This year’s list includes Canada along with several Western European countries (Finland, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Norway) and dozens of other countries around the world. The total population of the 40 countries on the list exceeds 4.3 billion.  Many of these are poor countries with per person GDPs of a few thousand dollars per year, yet the primary complaint tends to revolve around patent protection and approval for pharmaceutical drugs. 

In many instances, U.S. demands far exceed international requirements. It wants Chile to change its Internet provider liability provisions, India to adopt DMCA-like digital lock rules, Israel to establish statutory damages rules, Thailand to pass anti-camcording legislation, and Italy to water down its privacy laws to allow for greater online monitoring.  It even encourages countries to go beyond what the U.S. provides. For example, it congratulates Norway for considering a copyright law that would block downloading and streaming sites.

As discussed in the parallel post on Canada, the USTR Special 301 list should not be seen as a genuine, unbiased review of intellectual property laws. The opposite is true – it is an explicitly biased, industry-driven report devoid of any real analysis. Instead, the U.S. assesses how far it can push a particular country and uses the report to promote legal reforms that often extend far beyond international requirements or norms.


  1. Anarchist Philathrapist says:

    With the harper regime
    I can’t even begin to question the timing of this report. The completion of an election, with a well known american supporter having almost unlimited control over the country. This is the start of the harper-ACTA train all over again, and we are all along for the “at least” 4 year ride.

  2. 4.3B
    The current estimate for world population is about 6.9 billion, yet the US is putting 4.3 billion on their hit-list…OVER 62% OF THE WORLD POPULATION!!! Now when they only account for about 4.5% of the world population…can you say overstepping your bounds. When 62% of the world is “infringing”, in their opinion, they should be thinking, “Perhaps we need to update our practices.”