Notorious Markets Make USTR's "Naughty" List

Dec 20, 2011

Today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released its Special 301 Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. The Chamber and GIPC commend USTR’s recognition of the pervasive problem of counterfeiting and piracy, especially as it relates to the online market.

USTR opens the report saying that “globally copyright piracy on a commercial scale and trademark counterfeiting continue to thrive, in part because of the presence of marketplaces that deal in goods and services that infringe intellectual property rights (IPR)… The scale and popularity of these markets can cause economic harm to U.S. and other IP right holders. In addition, products sold at these markets may pose possible health and safety risks to consumers.”

This latest review of Notorious Markets reinforces the urgent and imminent need for legislation to combat the worst-of-the-worst online IP thieves. The U.S. is the biggest economy in the world and, not coincidentally, is also the world leader in producing intellectual property. This combination attracts the attention of sophisticated foreign counterfeiters and pirates whose only motivation is to fill their own pockets with U.S. dollars at the expense of consumer health and American jobs.

So what can we do about it? Education of consumers is a critical component, and today's announcement adds to the substantial government and private sector efforts to bring to the public's attention the problem and harm from counterfeiting and piracy. Unfortunately, in the context of criminals, education alone is not enough. In an ideal world, every country would have an effective set of IP laws, and would enforce those laws. This is a critical part of USTR's mission and we know that there are smart, hard-working people there who devote incredible efforts toward the goal of improved global IP protection. We appreciate and thank the dedicated people at USTR. But the reality is that these efforts can take years. And we simply do not believe that American jobs and consumer safety should be sacrificed while we wait for other countries to get to where they should be.

That is why we need rogue sites legislation now -- to give our courts the ability to cut off foreign criminals from the U.S. marketplace. The Senate’s PROTECT IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act provide reasonable and effective means in which to update the IP enforcement toolkit. That is why they have support from over 400 companies and associations from every State in the Union and over 60 sectors of the American economy.

Identifying the notorious online markets, like today’s USTR report, is just the first step in the process. In order for this to mean anything, we must provide effective enforcement and take a bite out of global IP theft.

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