China continues to head the "black list" prepared by the US government on intellectual property (IP) theft and patent violations worldwide, a list including 11 countries and which also includes India.
In its "Special 301" annual report for 2018, the Office of the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) identifies "trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to US innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights."
The "black list" includes 11 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Venezuela, Spanish news agency EFE reported.
The report "identifies foreign trading partners where IP protection and enforcement has deteriorated or remained at inadequate levels and where US persons who rely on IP protection have difficulty with fair and equitable market access."
The USTR document says that although Beijing did make some modest reforms to its judicial system over the past few years, it has not yet changed certain laws that enable Chinese firms to violate the intellectual property rights of foreign firms, including online piracy, counterfeiting and registering trademarks in bad faith, among other things.
Specifically, the question of intellectual property is one of the main points of friction in the current trade negotiations between China and the US designed to put an end to the tariff and trade war launched by US President Donald Trump and to which Beijing has responded with similar measures.
In second place on the list is India, with the USTR emphasising "longstanding deficiencies" in its IP framework and a lack of adequate measurable improvements concerning patents, copyrights, trade secrets and enforcement, along with new issues that are negatively affecting US right holders.
Chile and Venezuela had been on the list last year, while Argentina was added this year because of "longstanding and well-known challenges to IP-intensive industries, including from the US. A key deficiency in the legal framework for patents is the unduly broad limitations on patent eligible subject matter," the report states.The report acknowledges "progress" by Chilean authorities but emphasises that there continues to be significant digital piracy in that country, while regarding Venezuela the USTR warns that "significant uncertainty and deterred investments in innovation and IP in recent years" have placed it considerably below international standards.