Monday, October 6, 2014

2014 Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Kuwait

In the 2014 Special 301 Report, the Office of the United States Trade Representative ("USTR") announced that, in order to monitor progress on specific intellectual property rights ("IPR") issues, an Out-of-Cycle Review ("OCR") would be conducted for Kuwait. USTR requests written comments from the public concerning any act, policy, or practice that is relevant to the decision regarding whether Kuwait should be identified under Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974 (Trade Act) (19 U.S.C. 2242).

Deadlines: The deadline for the public, except foreign governments, to submit written comments is Wednesday, October 15, 2014. The deadline for foreign governments to submit written comments is Monday, October 20, 2014.

Section 182 of the Trade Act requires USTR to identify countries that deny adequate and effective protection of IPR or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection. The provisions of Section 182 are commonly referred to as the ``Special 301'' provisions of the Trade Act.

Those countries that have the most onerous or egregious acts, policies, or practices and whose acts, policies, or practices have the greatest adverse impact (actual or potential) on relevant U.S. products are to be identified as Priority Foreign Countries. In addition, USTR has created a ``Priority Watch List'' and a ``Watch List'' under Special 301 provisions. Placement of a trading partner on the Priority Watch List or Watch List indicates that particular problems exist in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property.

An OCR is a tool that USTR uses to encourage progress on IPR issues of concern. It provides an opportunity for heightened engagement with a trading partner to address and remedy such issues. Successful resolution of specific IPR issues of concern or lack of action on that concern can lead to a change in a trading partner's Special 301 status outside of the time frame for the annual Special 301 Review.

In the 2014 Special 301 Report, USTR noted that it would conduct an OCR of Kuwait focusing in particular on the Government of Kuwait's efforts to address deficiencies in both its copyright legislation and its intellectual property enforcement practices. The 2014 Special 301 Report included specific steps that Kuwait would need to take by the conclusion of the OCR to avoid being moved to the Priority Watch List: (1) Introduce amendments to the current copyright legislation that meet international standards; and (2) resume enforcement against both copyright piracy and trademark infringement.

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