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USTR Seeking Public Comment On Annual "Special 301" Report

The U.S. Trade Representative has issued a Notice seeking comments from the public to inform its upcoming annual report on which countries have lax laws and regulations to protect intellectual property rights. The Notice is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on January 11, 2016.

The Trade Act of 1974 that mandate the identification of foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection. The “Special 301” report is named after these provisions, and is expected to be published toward the end of April, and will categorize countries onto the “Priority Watch List” and “Watch List” based on the level of enforcement and market access for U.S. entities relying on IP protections.

“Trading partners placed on the Priority Watch List are the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas,” the USTR said in its notice.

February 5, 2016 is the deadline for interested persons to submit written comments, notices of intent to testify at the Special 301 Public Hearing, and Hearing statements.

The Special 301 Subcommittee will hold a public hearing for interested persons, including representatives of foreign governments, at the Office of the United State Trade Representative, 1724 F Street, NW, Rooms 1&2, Washington, DC 20508. If necessary, the hearing may continue on the next business day. Please consult the USTR website for confirmation of the date and location and the schedule of witnesses.