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Post at: Jun 29 2022

USTR Report on Intellectual Property

Why in News 

  • On 27 April 2022, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its Special 301 Report, 2022.
  • It is on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property (IP) Rights.

About the report 

  • The “Special 301” Report of USTR is an annual review of the global state of IP protection and enforcement. 
  • The annual Special 301 review requires the U.S. government to identify “foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection.”
  • It categorized trading partners in Watch List and Priority Watch List.

Important Points of the Report 

  • In its 2022 Special 301 Report, the USTR designated seven countries in the Priority Watch List. These are- 
  • Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Venezuela.
    • 20 countries are in the Watch List Some of them are :- 
  • Brazil, Canada, Colombia Switzerland Taiwan Thailand 
  • The review of Ukraine has been suspended due to Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked invasion of the country.

India in the Report

  • India remains one of the most challenging major economies with respect to protection and enforcement of intellectual property, said the report.
  • It decided to retain New Delhi on the Priority Watch List.
  • The report further said India’s accession to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty and WIPO Copyright Treaty, collectively known as the WIPO Internet Treaties, in 2018 and the Nice Agreement in 2019 were positive steps.

Concerns in the Report 

  • India’s copyright legal framework is missing key provisions to comply with international treaties to which India has acceded, including-
    • The Berne Convention, the Geneva Phonograms Convention,
    • The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), and 
    • The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) (together, the WIPO Internet Treaties).
  • While enforcement in India is generally challenging, judicial enforcement, particularly through the Delhi High Court, has been successful.
  • Pharmaceutical stakeholders also express concerns as to whether India has an effective mechanism for the early resolution of potential patent disputes, particularly shortcomings in notifying interested parties of marketing approvals.

Priority action requested 

  • Enforcement- 
    • Strengthen and standardize the national IP enforcement regime.
  • Legislation- 
    • Ensure the open-ended review of copyright laws is used
    • Reject  the  Parliament DRSC  proposal to statutory license to cover all Internet transmissions of   sound recordings etc.
    • Amend the Copyright Act and Criminal Procedure Codes to fully comply with the WIPO Internet Treaties 
    • Enact proposed Cinematograph Bill etc.
  • Market Access
    • Simplify the rules and procedures for cinema construction.
    • Eliminate Local Body Entertainment Taxes (LBET) and other related taxes.
    • Agree to a further extension of the WTO e-commerce moratoriumon customs duties for electronic transmissions.
    • Eliminate the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) mandated rates (price controls) for pay-TV providers etc.

Market access issues in India 

  • Foreign Direct Investment Caps
  • Local Body Entertainment Tax
  • Tariffs: High tariffs on entertainment software and hardware products, including PC video game products
  • Bill on the Registration of Press and Periodicals: Introduced in November 2019
  • Mandatory Sharing of Non-Personal Data


  • India’s position in Priority Watch List may create some friction  in India’s trade with US.  India need to balance its interest in securing   intellectual property rights  of domestic producers as well as their  market aces in US market.


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