EU Issues New Report on IPR Enforcement outside Europe
Increased cooperation between the European Union and the developing world is strengthening intellectual property enforcement in poorer countries, according to a new report from the European Commission. While the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) still faces many challenges in these countries, there have been considerable improvements in enforcement, the report found.
Overall, though, the number of IPR infringements around the world is rising. The European Commission's report describes the areas in which both developing and developed countries are lacking in enforcement.
"This report clearly demonstrates that IPR enforcement should remain a key objective for EU trade policy, as it plays a vital role for the competitiveness of our industry and for the EU's economic growth and jobs," said EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton.
Out of the 18 countries considered to be of ‘priority' to the EU for strengthening the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs), Brussels considers China the most problematic. More than half of all of the goods that the EU confiscates for IPR infringement come from China, the report says. Recent improvements in China's enforcement systems do not outweigh the increase in IPR infringements within the country's borders, the Commission found. The report highlights the need for further improvements in the effectiveness of the Chinese judicial system in this area. China however, remains open to discussions with the European Union.
After China - the Commission's biggest concern - the report identified two other ‘priority groups' for IPR enforcement. The second such group includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Turkey. Weak enforcement systems and a lack of political will hinder the protection of intellectual property rights in these countries, the report found, noting that such issues must be addressed at the local level.
The third priority group includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Israel, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Ukraine, the US and Vietnam. The situations in these countries vary because the group consists of both developed countries and countries in transition. Most of these countries have shown improvement in both enforcement and cooperation, the Commission concluded. But the report found that US, among others, has failed to strengthen its policies in these areas. The United States' continued failure to adhere to IP-related WTO dispute settlement decisions keeps it on the priority country list, the report said.
Although the report thoroughly discusses enforcement issues in countries listed, it only suggests cooperation and debate to further the EU's mission on IPR enforcement and provides no specific recommendations as to how those countries might get off of its priority list.
The report is available at http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=470.