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Intellectual property laws in China, India are flawed, claims US govt without irony

Counterfeit havens shamed by American trade body

The US government is looking to shame China and India for their lax attitudes toward intellectual property law enforcement.

The office of US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman said in its annual Special 301 report [PDF] that the two Asian nations were among the worst at snuffing out counterfeit goods.

The two countries were cited for failing to stem the flow of knock-off products such as pharmaceuticals, software and digital media. Inadequate legislation, combined with lax enforcement of the laws that were on the books, was cited as a problem for the world's two most populous nations.

The theft of trade secrets remains a particular concern. Such theft occurs inside and outside of China for the competitive advantage of Chinese state-owned and private companies. Conditions are unlikely to improve as long as those committing such theft, and those benefitting, continue to operate with relative impunity, often taking advantage of the theft in order to compete unfairly or to enter into business relationships that disadvantage their victims.

This is not the first time China has taken heat for failing to protect intellectual property. A 2013 report estimated that Chinese IP theft cost US companies more than $300bn in lost exports.

In India, meanwhile, trafficking in counterfeit goods is estimated to cost companies (foreign and domestic) as much as $11.9bn annually. The home of Bollywood is still struggling with preventing people from pirating movies and defeating DRM software, both home and abroad.

In particular, the US urges India to: enact anti-camcording legislation; model its statutory license provisions relating to copyrighted works on the standards of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works; ensure that collecting societies are licensed promptly and able to operate effectively; and provide additional protections against signal theft, circumvention of technological protection measures, and online copyright piracy

China and India were not alone in catching the USTR's scorn. Other nations on the Priority Watch List were Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela.

The report comes as the US is itself struggling to overhaul intellectual property laws. Companies have taken exception to the overly broad nature of US patent laws and are looking to rewrite bills in order to crack down on the proliferation of patent troll companies who make their living by suing others for licensing fees. ®

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