Monday, April 28, 2008

Intellectual Property Piracy in India, Pakistan

The US trade representative's office has placed nine countries, including India and Pakistan, on priority watch list for intellectual property piracy. In addition to the traditional categories of computer software and music, the USTR has added counterfeit pharmaceuticals to the list of concerns.

"Trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals continues to be a particularly grave concern in light of the risks to human health and safety, and the U.S. continues to be actively engaged in addressing this serious problem," the USTRO statement said. The USTR report also noted that the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals is a “growing problem” that particularly threatens consumer health and safety.

It cited a “proliferation” of phony drug production in Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia. The priority watch list also includes Argentina, Chile, Israel, Thailand and Venezuela.

Several countries including Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Ukraine were shifted off the Priority Watch List in 2008.

The report said that while the U.S. continues to work with China to strengthen its intellectual-property regime, "high levels of copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting remain serious concerns."

USTRO believes that US companies have lost billions of dollars due to copyright theft and piracy in China while Beijing insists it is doing its best to stamp out the problem. In a conference call with reporters Friday, the assistant US trade representative in charge of intellectual property, Stan McCoy, said: “If things proceed in line with current expectations, a decision from the (WTO) panel would be possible this fall.”

On Russia, the report summary said the U.S. will continue to monitor that the country meets the obligations it committed to as part of a bilateral agreement with the U.S. on Russia's ascension to the World Trade Organization.

"Implementation of these commitments remains essential to completing the final multilateral negotiations on the overall accession package," the report said.

The USTRO watch list also includes Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

As the biggest beneficiaries of globalization of the capital, labor and consumer markets, the US corporations are cheer-leading the opening of the emerging economies for their goods and services, while at the same time complaining about the IP piracy. They want to use the power of the US government to benefit their share-holders and ignore the lack of affordability of their products and services by the vast majority of the people in the emerging markets. This is no different from the efforts of the music recording industry in the US which prices, packages and distributes music without regard for the vast majority of their customers and then goes to court to sue the very customers they are trying to market their products to. These strategies are not likely to work either in the US or elsewhere in the world. Instead, such strategies will backfire, unless there's serious rethinking by the US corporations to address the real needs of their international customer base.

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