New push for China IPR protection

U.S. presses piracy case, asks WTO to settle rights dispute

The White House on Tuesday stepped up its case against China for Beijing's failure to protect U.S. movies and other copyrighted works from piracy (HR 8/14).

The U.S. Trade Representative's office asked the World Trade Organization to convene a panel to settle the dispute. The request is the next step in the U.S.' attempt to get a WTO suit before the trade body.

In April, the Bush administration initiated dispute settlement proceedings over deficiencies it sees in China's legal structure for protecting and enforcing copyrights and trademarks by requesting consultations with China. Consultations were held in June, and under WTO rules, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body will consider the U.S. request for establishment of a panel at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 31.

"The United States and China have tried, through formal consultations over the last three months, to resolve differences arising from U.S. concerns about inadequate protection of intellectual property rights in China," said Sean Spicer, spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. "That dialogue has not generated solutions to the issues we have raised."

The U.S. alleges that China violated provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) related to three aspects of China's IPR regime, including: quantitative thresholds in China's present criminal law; the revising of rules that allow pirated goods seized by Chinese customs authorities to be released into commerce following the removal of fake labels; and the apparent denial of copyright protection for works poised to enter the market but awaiting Chinese censorship approval.

In April, the Bush administration said it was filing two new trade cases against China over copyright piracy and restrictions on the sale of U.S. movies, music and books there. By asking for the dispute resolution panel, the administration now takes the second step in the process. If the U.S. wins the cases, it would be allowed to impose economic sanctions on Chinese products.