• US lifts PH from intellectual property rights watch list

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    The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has lifted the Philippines from the 2014 Special 301 Watch List or the intellectual property rights watch list.

    USTR announced Monday evening (Manila time), the same day US President Barack Obama had his first state visit in the Philippines, that it removed the country as Watch List in the Special 301 Report for this year.

    ”USTR has determined to remove the Philippines from the Special 301 Watch List. The Philippines has appeared on the Watch List or Priority Watch List continuously since 1994, and was first listed in 1989,” the USTR stated.

    The USTR recognized and noted the efforts of the Philippine government in the recent years to intensify the implementation of the intellectual property laws.

    ”In recent years, the government has enacted a series of significant legislative and regulatory reforms to enhance the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the Philippines. Philippine authorities have also made laudable civil and administrative enforcement gains,” USTR said.

    ”Although significant challenges remain, the commitment of Philippine authorities and the results achieved merit this change in status. The United States will continue to engage with the Philippines to address unresolved and future challenges,” USTR added.

    Even before the announcement of the USTR, a report from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) issued in February 7, 2014 said “IIPA files this Special Mention report on the Philippines to note continued positive progress in several key areas for protection of creative content warranting recognition, while noting remaining issues in the country that must be addressed in the coming year.”

    Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo said in a text message that removing the country from the intellectual property rights watch list is among the good news coming from the enhanced relation between US and the Philippines.

    ”It’s a recognition of the positive work Philippines has done on IP (intellectual property) and is one of a string of good news coming from the US coinciding with strengthened Philippine-US relations” Domingo told.

    Under the Section 182 of the Trade Act 1974, the USTR names countries to be included in its annual Special 301 Report.

    The Special 301 Report identifies trade barriers in US trade partners concerning intellectual property laws.

    The Report categorizes a country if it is under the “Priority Foreign Country”, “Priority Watch List”, or “Watch List”.

    “Priority Foreign Country” is the worst classification a country may get from the USTR’s Special 301 Report.

    ”A trading partner’s placement on the Priority Watch List or Watch List indicates that particular problems exist in that country or economy with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property. Trading partners on the Priority Watch List become the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas,” USTR explained on the other hand. PNA

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