Washington DC
17 February 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

IP trade group singles out Canada


The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has named 16 countries, including Canada, that should be placed on the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual list that names and shames jurisdictions that fail to protect US IP.

The Special 301 Report, which is compiled using evidence and comment from stakeholders, including rights holders, highlights physical and online markets around the world that are reported to be facilitating substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. It is usually released in April every year.

Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Peru, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates should be placed on the report’s ‘watch list’, according to the IIPA, while Chile, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Vietnam deserve ‘priority watch list’ status.

Canada featured on IIPA’s recommendations for the “Priority Watch List” as recently as 2012, but was downgraded in 2013.

The IIPA said that, while Canada’s legal environment has become “somewhat less attractive to the operators of massive multinational online piracy operations”, as a result of its Copyright Modernization Act, online infringement remains widespread.

“The greatly expanded exceptions to copyright protection that were the hallmark of the Copyright Modernization Act have already caused serious damage to Canada’s educational publishing market.”

“Their ill-defined boundaries, in combination with unfavourable decisions of Canadian courts and the Copyright Board, further ratchet up the level of market uncertainty for creative industries in Canada.”

The USTR’s Special 301 reports have come under flak recently.

Late last year, the USTR returned Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace to the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, which focuses on online infringement, after a four-year absence.

Alibaba president Michael Evans said this ignored “the real work” that Alibaba has done against counterfeiters. He added: “Unfortunately, the USTR’s decision leads us to question whether the USTR acted based on the actual facts or was influenced by the current political climate.”

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