|TLJ News from April 1-5, 2007|
Copyright Office to Begin Online Registrations
4/5. The Copyright Office (CO) published a page in its web site that announces that starting "This summer" it will "offer the option to file a copyright registration online through this website". The CO has named this program "electronic Copyright Office" or "eCO".
The basic filing fee for many copyright registrations is $45. The corresponding fee for online applications will be $35.
The CO states that this new system will facilitate "Fastest processing time", "Earlier effective date of registration", "Online status tracking", and "Payment online by credit card or Copyright Office deposit account".
The CO also stated that it will begin using new registration forms on July 1, 2007. However, it has not yet released copies of these new forms. The CO added that "With new scanning software, the Office will be able to process these forms more efficiently and faster."
The CO states in a web page titled "The U.S. Copyright Office Reengineering Program" that "The reengineering initiative aims to produce a more efficient and effective customer-based registration and recordation process through specific project objectives. It will reshape the Office’s future and its services to creators and users of copyrighted works. The focus of this effort is to reengineer the Office’s principal business processes and public services of registering claims, recording documents, acquiring works for the Library of Congress, answering public requests, maintaining records and accounts, and processing licenses."
While the CO's new eCO system will enable authors to register works online, the Congress and CO have yet to provide clear rules for how to register web based works with the CO. The CO's registration system predates the internet. Its categories of works, such as nondramatic literary works and works of visual arts, and its multitude of forms, do not provide guidance regarding registration of works of authorship in new media.
One consequence is that authors may loose a cause of action for infringement on the grounds that they failed to comply with registration procedure. See, for example, opinion [6 pages in PDF] of the U.S. Court of Appeals (8thCir) in Action Tapes v. Mattson, and story titled "8th Circuit Rules Against Copyright Owner on Registration Errors" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,445, September 8, 2006. Also, the CO's regulations regarding registration are codified at 37 C.F.R. §§ 202.1 - 202.23.
Gutierrez Discusses WTO, IPR, and High Tech in Russia
4/5. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez gave a speech in Moscow, Russia, regarding trade and Russian accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). He urged Russia to protect intellectual property, resist protectionism, and provide a stable environment for investment and competition. He also said that the U.S. and Russia should have "a stronger partnership in ... high technology".
Gutierrez (at right) began by praising Russia. He said that "U.S.-Russia commercial ties are stronger and more dynamic than ever before."
He continued that "The next step for Russia is World Trade Organization accession. Russia is the world's largest economy not yet in the WTO. The United States has been working side-by-side with Russia to achieve WTO membership. Last November, Minister Gref and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab signed a bilateral market access agreement." (See, story titled "US and Russia Sign Bilateral Market Access Agreement" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,493, November 21, 2006.)
He then gave advice to Russia on a number of issues, including intellectual property rights (IPR). He said that "Russians and Americans, like the rest of the world's people, stand to benefit from stronger enforcement of intellectual property.
"Around the globe we have seen that stolen intellectual property is not only an economic hazard, stifling innovation technological innovation, and discouraging works of culture in music and the arts, but also a health hazard." He elaborated that the World Health Organization (WHO) "estimates that 10 percent of global medicine is counterfeit." (See, WHO report on counterfeit medicines.)
He added that "Tough IP enforcement will protect Russian businesses and their ideas, like this country's resurgent film industry, and it will also protect Russian people."
Gutierrez continued that "Expansion of Russian commercial engagement with America and globally requires transparent markets that embrace foreign and domestic competition." He encouraged the Russia government to curb corruption, increase transparency, allow competition, provide an independent judiciary and adhere to the rule of law, and develop democratic institutions.
He argued that "As Russia becomes more prominent on the global stage, creating and maintaining a level playing field that encourages competition will attract more investment and ensure that Russian companies can successfully thrive at home and abroad."
Moreover, he said, "Transparency and predictability in regulations and laws governing investment would send positive signals to potential partners in both our countries. Capital allocators look for secure, predictable markets, and they watch with concern where uncertainty exists."
He also urged Russia to resist calls to protect domestic interests or whole segments of the economy with protectionist policies. He said that "Protectionism often has the unintended consequence of limiting access to capital, technology and know-how, and sheltering companies and entire industries from competition that sparks innovation and drives efficiency. Protectionism doesn't protect jobs -- the only thing that does is to compete, innovate and grow."
Finally, he said that "The United States and Russia should have a stronger partnership in ... high technology ..." and that "There have been tremendous technological advancements from which Russian companies could greatly benefit."
4/5. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) submitted a report [21 pages in PDF] to the Congress titled "Annual Report to the Congress for FY 2006 Pursuant to the Do Not Call Implementation Act on Implementation of the Do Not Call Registry". The report states that "The National Do Not Call Registry is, by virtually every available measure, an effective consumer protection initiative. By the end of FY 2006, more than 132 million telephone numbers were registered. The available data show that compliance with the National Do Not Call Registry provisions of the Amended Telemarketing Sales Rule ("Amended TSR") is high and that, as a result, consumers are receiving fewer unwanted telemarketing calls." (Footnote omitted. Parentheses in original.) See also, FTC release.
IRS Reports Loss of Another 490 Computers
4/4. The Senate Finance Committee announced that it will hold a hearing "next week" on identity theft and fraudulent tax returns.
This follows the March 23, 2007, report of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's (TIGTA) titled "The Internal Revenue Service Is Not Adequately Protecting Taxpayer Data on Laptop Computers and Other Portable Electronic Media Devices".
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (at right), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, stated in a release that "Thieves are very good at mining sensitive data for their own end. One stolen IRS laptop could put thousands of taxpayers in jeopardy. It’s hard to see why this is still a problem when the IRS knew about it more than three years ago. A Finance Committee hearing next week will look at identity theft and fraudulent tax returns. I plan to ask what the IRS is doing to fix this problem for good."
This report states that it "presents the results of our review to determine whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is adequately protecting sensitive data on laptop computers and portable electronic media devices."
It finds that "IRS employees reported the loss or theft of at least 490 computers between January 2, 2003, and June 13, 2006."
Moreover, the report states that "111 incidents occurred within IRS facilities". This implies that there is widespread criminal activity by IRS employees that also threatens the data confidentiality and individual privacy.
There is little new in this report, other than that historic trends at the IRS have continued in recent years. See, story titled "Sen. Grassley Condemns IRS for 2,300 Missing Computers" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 342, January 9, 2002; story titled "IRS Loses More Computers, Jeopardizes Taxpayer Info" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 493, August 16, 2002; story titled "GAO Report Finds That Computer Weaknesses At IRS Put Taxpayer Data At Risk" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 673, June 4, 2003; and story titled "IRS Data Vulnerable" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 145, March 16, 2001.
The TIGTA report continues that "We found limited definitive information on the lost or stolen computers, such as the number of taxpayers affected, when we conducted our review. However, we conducted a separate test on 100 laptop computers currently in use by employees and determined 44 laptop computers contained unencrypted sensitive data, including taxpayer data and employee personnel data. As a result, we believe it is very likely a large number of the lost or stolen IRS computers contained similar unencrypted data."
The report elaborates that "Employees did not follow encryption procedures because they were either unaware of security requirements, did so for their own convenience, or did not know their own personal data were considered sensitive. We also found other computer devices, such as flash drives, CDs, and DVDs, on which sensitive data were not always encrypted."
The TIGTA also found security weaknesses at offsite facilities used for storage of backup data. It states that "Backup data were not encrypted and adequately protected at the four sites. For example, at one site, non-IRS employees had full access to the storage area and the IRS backup media."
FCC Creates Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council
4/4. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the creation of an advisory committee titled "Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council".
The FCC stated that this committee will replace both the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) and the Media Security and Reliability Council (MSRC). The FCC further stated that the duties of this new committee will include recommending best practices "to ensure the security, reliability, operability and interoperability of public safety communications systems", and recommending ways to "improve the Emergency Alert System (EAS)".
Its duties will also include "reviewing the deployment of Internet Protocol (IP) as a network protocol for critical next generation infrastructure, including emergency/first responder networks".
It duties will also include "reviewing and recommending to the FCC an implementation plan for the ``emergency communications internetwork´´ advocated by NRIC VII, Focus Group 1D in its December 2005 Final Report." See, NRIC's December 16, 2005, report [71 pages in PDF] titled "Communication Issues for Emergency Communications Beyond E911: Final Report -- Properties, network architectures and transition issues for communications between emergency services organizations, including PSAPs".
See, Federal Register, April 4, 2007, Vol. 72, No. 64, at Pages 16362-16363.
People and Appointments
4/4. Robert Jamison was promoted to Deputy Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS stated in a release that his responsibilities will include improving "the resiliency of essential cyber-security and communications capabilities". Jamison was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Before that, he worked for the Department of Transportation. And before that, he was a longtime employee of United Parcel Service (UPS).
4/4. Robert Mocny was promoted to Director of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program. He was Deputy Director of US-VISIT. See, DHS release.
4/4. The Copyright Office published a notice in the Federal Register that announces, describes, recites, and sets the comment deadline for its proposed rules changes regarding applications for registration of claims to the renewal term of copyright. The deadline to submit comments is May 4, 2007. See, Federal Register, April 4, 2007, Vol. 72, No. 64, at Pages 16306-16311.
Antitrust Modernization Commission Releases Report
4/3. The Antitrust Modernization Commission (AMC) released its report titled "Antitrust Modernization Commission: Report and Recommendations: April 2007". See, entire report [540 pages in PDF, 2.1 MB] and AMC release [3 pages in PDF].
The Antitrust Modernization Commission Act of 2002, which is now Public Law No. 107-273, created the AMC, and mandated this report.
The report finds that the antitrust laws are basically sound, but offers some recommendations for change.
The AMC also published the report in its web site, broken down by components and chapters. See,
The AMC wrote in a letter to the President and Congress that its report "is fundamentally an endorsement of free-market principles. These principles have driven the success of the U.S. economy and will continue to fuel the investment and innovation that are essential to ensuring our continued welfare. They remain as applicable today as they ever have been. Free trade, unfettered by either private or governmental restraints, promotes the most efficient allocation of resources and greatest consumer welfare."
The report recommends against changing key antitrust statutes. It recommends that "No statutory change is recommended with respect to Section 7 of the Clayton Act", which governs merger reviews. Moreover, "Congress should not amend Section 2 of the Sherman Act", which addresses single firm conduct. It adds that "Standards currently employed by U.S. courts for determining whether single-firm conduct is unlawfully exclusionary are generally appropriate."
The report also addresses innovation and patents. It states that "There is no need to revise the antitrust laws to apply different rules to industries in which innovation, intellectual property, and technological change are central features". See, related story in this issue titled "AMC Addresses Innovation".
The report does criticize those sectoral regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that unnecessarily conduct duplicative and dilatory antitrust merger reviews. It recommends Congressional action. See, related story in this issue titled "AMC Seeks End to Duplicative FCC Antitrust Merger Reviews".
The report also recommends that the "Congress should evaluate whether the filed-rate doctrine should continue to apply in regulated industries and consider whether to overrule it legislatively where the regulatory agency no longer specifically reviews proposed rates."
The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are also conducting their own joint review of one aspect of antitrust law -- single firm conduct.
The DOJ stated in a release that the AMC's "review process has been exemplary and that its report contains valuable analyses of U.S. antitrust laws and enforcement procedures". The DOJ praises the AMC for making free market competition the basis of economic policy.
The DOJ added that "The core antitrust laws -- Sherman Act sections 1 and 2 and Clayton Act section 7 --and their application by the courts and federal enforcement agencies are sound and appropriately safeguard the competitiveness of the U.S. economy."
AMC Addresses Innovation
4/3. The Antitrust Modernization Commission (AMC) released its report titled "Antitrust Modernization Commission: Report and Recommendations: April 2007". Much of this report focuses on the application of antitrust principles to innovation, patents, and new technologies -- especially information technologies. The report recommends that there is no need to revise antitrust law for new technologies.
See, entire report [540 pages in PDF, 2.1 MB] and AMC release [3 pages in PDF].
The report states that "competition in the twenty-first century increasingly involves innovation, intellectual property, technological change, and global trade."
"In many high-tech sectors of the economy, firms must constantly innovate to keep pace in markets in which product life cycles are counted in months, not years. To protect their innovations, firms may rely on intellectual property. In some cases, intellectual property assets may be more important to businesses than specialized manufacturing facilities." (Footnote omitted.)
The report continues that "As the nature of competition evolves, so must antitrust law." However, the report recommends few changes to antitrust law in the context of innovation, technology, and IPR.
First, the AMC report recommends that "There is no need to revise the antitrust laws to apply different rules to industries in which innovation, intellectual property, and technological change are central features."
It adds that "In industries in which innovation, intellectual property, and technological change are central features, just as in other industries, antitrust enforcers should carefully consider market dynamics in assessing competitive effects and should ensure proper attention to economic and other characteristics of particular industries that may, depending on the facts at issue, have an important bearing on a valid antitrust analysis."
Moreover, the AMC recommends that "No substantial changes to merger enforcement policy are necessary to account for industries in which innovation, intellectual property, and technological change are central features."
However, it does recommend that "the agencies and courts should give greater credit for certain fixed-cost efficiencies, such as research and development expenses, in dynamic, innovation-driven industries where marginal costs are low relative to typical prices." It also recommends that the antitrust agencies "should give substantial weight to evidence demonstrating that a merger will enhance consumer welfare by enabling the companies to increase innovation".
Finally, it recommends that the agencies "should update the Merger Guidelines to explain more extensively how they evaluate the potential impact of a merger on innovation."
With respect to single firm conduct, the report recommends that "Standards currently employed by U.S. courts for determining whether single-firm conduct is unlawfully exclusionary are generally appropriate. Although it is possible to disagree with the decisions in particular cases, in general the courts have appropriately recognized that vigorous competition, the aggressive pursuit of business objectives, and the realization of efficiencies not available to competitors are generally not improper, even for a ``dominant´´ firm and even where competitors might be disadvantaged.
The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division issued a release that praises the AMC report. It states that "New or different rules are not needed for industries in which innovation, intellectual property, and technological innovation are central features. Unlike some other areas of the law, the core antitrust laws are general in nature and have been applied to many different industries to protect free-market competition successfully over a long period of time despite changes in the economy and the increasing pace of technological advancement. One of the great benefits of the Sherman and Clayton Acts is their adaptability to new economic conditions without sacrificing their ability to protect competition."
AMC Seeks End to Duplicative FCC Antitrust Merger Reviews
4/3. The Antitrust Modernization Commission (AMC) released its report titled "Antitrust Modernization Commission: Report and Recommendations: April 2007". The report argues that there should not be duplicative antitrust merger reviews at sectoral regulatory agencies. See, entire report [540 pages in PDF, 2.1 MB] and AMC release [3 pages in PDF].
The report does not single out the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), or its antitrust merger reviews, which often duplicate reviews conducted by the FTC or DOJ, impose substantial delays, and allow the FCC to pursue a wide variety of policy objectives.
Financial regulators have merger authority with respect to banks, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has merger authority with respect to electricity, and the Surface Transportation Board has merger authority with respect to rails. However, the history of recent FCC merger reviews presents the strongest case for limiting duplication of reviews. Also, the reports' emphasis on new technologies suggests that the AMC had FCC mergers more in mind than railroad mergers.
The report recommends that "For mergers in regulated industries, the relevant antitrust agency should perform the competition analysis. The relevant regulatory authority should not re-do the competition analysis of the antitrust agency." (See, page 23.)
See, full story.
Grand Jury Indicts Four For Exporting Microprocessors to India
4/3. The Department of Justice (DOJ) disclosed that a grand jury of the U.S. District Court (DC) returned a 15 count indictment that charges Parthasarathy Sudarsham, Mythili Gopal, Akn Prasad, and Sampath Sundar with criminal violation of various export related laws in connection with the exportation of microprocessors to India.
The indictment alleges that the items exported in violation of law were all "electronic components". The indictment further describes these items as "Static Random Access Memory computer chips", "capacitor", "semi-conductor", "rectifier", "resistor", and "microprocessors". The indictment alleges that the ultimate destination of these items was the government of India.
The indictment alleges that the unlicensed export of these electronic components "posed a risk to the foreign policy and national security of the United States because of their significance for nuclear explosive purposes and for the delivery of nuclear devices."
The indictment alleges, among other things, violation of the federal export administration regulations (15 C.F.R. Parts 730-774), which implement the Export Administration Act, as expired.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), stated in a release that "If the Indian government has attempted to circumvent U.S. export controls over sensitive missile technology, as is alleged in the indictment, then it has violated its explicit agreements to become a responsible international actor in the context of nonproliferation."
He added that "India has also long touted its strong military and space-launch cooperation with Iran, which raises the possibility that the sensitive U.S. missile technologies India has misappropriated may wind up benefiting Tehran. This would be absolutely unacceptable, and it would be treated as such by the Congress."
Rep. Markey is a co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation. Most of the members are Democrats.
People and Appointments
4/3. Richard Sennett was named Chief Accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Division of Investment Management. See, SEC release.
4/3. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued an order in In Re Advanced Micro Devices, denying AMD's and others' petition for writ of mandamus to direct the U.S. District Court (NDCal) to issue a protective order conditionally staying depositions of their CEOs. The underlying action in the District Court is Tessera's suit against AMD and the others alleging patent infringement and breach of license agreements. The Court of Appeals wrote that mandamus is only available only in extraordinary situations. This proceeding is In Re Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., et al., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, App. Ct. Miscellaneous Docket No. 847, a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Rep. Markey Writes FCC Chairman Martin Regarding Universal Service
4/2. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, sent a letter [PDF] to Kevin Martin, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), regarding the FCC's universal service tax and subsidy programs.
Rep. Markey (at right) expressed his support for the e-rate program, but questioned the way the FCC is implementing subsidies in high cost areas. He submitted numerous questions.
He wrote, "I am concerned, however, that rules adopted several years ago by the Commission to implement the 1996 Act's universal service provisions seem less focused on the best interests of consumers than on ensuring the financial well-being of particular companies operating in certain geographic markets.
He added that "the central purpose of the universal service provisions of the 1996 Act is to benefit consumers, not telecommunications carriers."
"Yet", wrote Rep. Markey, the FCC's "implementation of the 1996 Act appears to have allowed a certain class of carriers to use high cost support as a shield against the positive effects of competition. The net result is a universal service fund that has grown, not shrunk, from $1.8 billion in 1997 to $7.2 billion in 2007. This explosive growth is largely attributed to an expansion of the high cost program, which unlike the other federal funding mechanisms for the ``E-rate´´ and rural health care, is not subject to a cap."
Rep. Markey also propounded six pages of written interrogatories to be answered by May 4, 2007. These questions, which are appended to the letter, request information about universal service taxes, universal service subsidies, reverse auctions, and the e-rate program.
US and Korea Announce FTA
4/2. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (OUSTR) announced in a release that the US and Korea have concluded a free trade agreement (FTA). The OUSTR did not release the text of any FTA.
The OUSTR release states that this FTA "provides high-level standards for protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, including trademarks, copyrights and patents, consistent with U.S. standards."
The OUSTR release also states that this FTA "will expand market access and investment opportunities in a number of service sectors, including telecommunications and e-commerce."
William Archey, head of the American Electronics Association (AeA) stated in a release that "this FTA will boost high-tech exports by eliminating tariffs on most products, improving access for services, strengthening intellectual property protection, and tackling non-tariff regulatory barriers"
The AeA's Rob Mulligan added that "improved regulatory transparency rules aimed at non-tariff impediments currently facing US companies in Korea should pave the way for improved access to this rapidly growing market for high-tech products".
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, stated in a release that "I have mixed feelings." He represents a agriculture state.
"On the one hand, the agreement is commercially significant, with almost 95 percent of tariffs on industrial and consumer goods being eliminated within three years. U.S. pork producers and soybean producers stand to benefit a lot, and so do our service providers. We already have a $72 billion trading relationship with the Koreans, and full implementation of this agreement would promote significant growth in our bilateral trade." But, Sen. Grassley continued, "I'm disappointed that rice was excluded from the agreement. ... Even more problematic is the absence of an agreement to remove Korea’s ban on U.S. beef, which is not scientifically justified."
OUSTR Releases Trade Report
4/2. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (OUSTR) released its report [2.6 MB PDF file] titled "2007 National Trade Estimate Report" (NTE). It contains a country by country survey of significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports.
See, OUSTR release summarizing the report, Forward [5 pages in PDF], and OUSTR page with hyperlinks each section of the report.
The survey includes within the definition of export barriers the "Lack of intellectual property protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright, and trademark regimes)" and "Trade restrictions affecting electronic commerce (e.g., tariff and nontariff measures, burdensome and discriminatory regulations and standards, and discriminatory taxation)". (Parentheses in original.)
It also includes "Services barriers (e.g., limits on the range of financial services offered by foreign financial institutions, regulation of international data flows, and restrictions on the use of foreign data processing)" and "Investment barriers (e.g., limitations on foreign equity participation and on access to foreign government-funded research and development (R&D) programs, local content and export performance requirements, and restrictions on transferring earnings and capital)". (Parentheses in original.)
Canada. The section [9 pages in PDF] on Canada, which is the largest market for U.S. exports, addresses several intellectual property rights issues in Canada.
For example, it sates that Canada is a signatory of the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, but that it has failed to ratify either treaty.
The report also discusses the weak border measures and intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement in Canada.
Next, it states that "Unauthorized camcording in Canadian movie theaters is an increasing source of international DVD piracy. Although camcording with intent to distribute is considered a crime in Canada, the act of camcording in a theater is not a criminal offense."
The report also states that "unauthorized use of satellite television services" may involve as many as one million households.
The report also identifies Canada's "46.7 percent limit on foreign ownership for all facilities-based telecommunications service suppliers except fixed satellite services and submarine cables".
European Union. The section [PDF] on the European Union, which is the 2nd largest market for U.S. exports, states that "In most respects, the enormous United States-EU trade and investment relationship operates smoothly and to the great benefit of companies, workers, and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic." It adds that "The EU and its Member States support strong protection for intellectual property rights (IPR)."
Although, it does point out that "The United States has expressed concerns about EU proposals to apply duties as high as 14 percent to imports of several technologically-sophisticated versions of products covered under the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA). Such products include certain set-top boxes with a communication function (e.g. cable boxes), flat panel displays for computers, digital still image video cameras, and certain units of automatic data processing machines (e.g. multifunction or ``all-in-one´´ printer/copier/scanner devices)." (Parentheses in original.)
Japan. The section [32 pages in PDF] on Japan, the third largest market for U.S. exports, states that the U.S. "continues to seek regulatory changes to promote competition, innovation, and choice in Japan's telecommunications sector". The report elaborates regarding interconnection, dominant carrier regulation, universal service, mobile termination, and new mobile wireless licenses.
The report also addresses Japan's efforts to promote information technologies and electronic commerce. It also addresses privacy, online fraud, and government IT procurement.
The report also addresses recommendations that the U.S. has made to Japan regarding intellectual property, such as extending the term of copyright, patent reform, and working with the U.S. to fight piracy in Asia.
PR China. The section [69 pages in PDF] on the People's Republic of China (PRC), the 4th largest market for U.S. exports, identifies numerous barriers.
It states that "despite significant progress in many areas, China's record in implementing WTO commitments is decidedly mixed. China continues to pursue problematic industrial policies that rely on trade-distorting measures such as local content requirements, import and export restrictions, discriminatory regulations and prohibited subsidies, all of which raise serious WTO concerns. China's shortcomings in enforcing laws in areas where detailed WTO disciplines apply, such as intellectual property rights, have also created serious problems for the United States and its other trading partners."
It continues that in April of 2006, as part of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), the PRC "made several commitments related to IPR protection and enforcement. It also committed ... to make adjustments to its registered capital requirements for telecommunications service providers ... China also reaffirmed past commitments to technology neutrality for 3G telecommunications standards ...".
However, it also states that "Issues like ... IPR enforcement and certain market access concerns have resisted resolution." It adds that "the lack of effective IPR enforcement remains a major challenge, as counterfeiting and piracy in China remain at unacceptably high levels and cause serious economic harm to U.S. businesses in virtually every sector of the economy."
Korea. The section [14 pages in PDF] on Korea, the 7th largest market for U.S. exports, states that the just announced free trade agreement (FTA) will be the "most commercially-significant FTA the United States has completed in 15 years."
The report discusses U.S. recommendations regarding numerous IPR issues, including IPR enforcement, technological protection measures, ISP liability, extension of the copyright term, temporary copies, book piracy, DVD piracy, patent reform, trademarks, and trade secrets.
The report also addresses U.S. recommendations regarding satellite retransmission and foreign content quotas for broadcasting and cable. The report also addresses U.S. recommendations that Korea "adhere to a policy of technology neutrality and to refrain from imposing mandatory standards or requiring the use of particular technologies that unnecessarily restrict trade or discriminate against U.S. suppliers of telecommunications or broadcast technologies or services."
The report also addresses electronic commerce and data privacy in Korea.
Russia. The section [17 pages in PDF] on Russia, which is only the 33rd largest market for U.S. exports, identifies numerous barriers.
The report states that "U.S. industry continues to be concerned about the IPR situation in Russia. U.S. copyright industries estimate they lost in excess of $1.9 billion in 2005 due to copyright piracy in Russia (business software -- $894 million; records and music -- $475 million; motion pictures -- $266 million; entertainment software -- $224 million; and books -- $42 million)."
It continues that "In 2006, Russia's optical disc production capacity continued to be far in excess of domestic demand, with pirated products apparently intended not only for domestic consumption, but also for export."
It continues that "companies continue to report patent infringement and counterfeiting of trademarked goods as a problem, especially for consumer goods, wine, distilled spirits and pharmaceuticals. Several U.S. firms have experienced problems with trademark counterfeiting, with Russian enterprises attempting to appropriate well-known foreign trademarks not currently active in Russia". It also addresses cyber squatting in Russia.
Finally, it states that "Poor enforcement of IPR is a pervasive problem. The prosecution and adjudication of intellectual property cases remains sporadic and inadequate; there is a lack of transparency and a failure to impose deterrent penalties. Russia’s customs administration also needs to significantly strengthen its enforcement efforts."
The OUSTR will soon release the results of the Section 1377 review, which focuses on barriers facing U.S. telecommunications services and equipment providers. The OUSTR will also soon issue its Special 301 report on the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights (IPR) protections in other countries.
The just released NTE report does not survey all nations. It only covers 58 major trading partners.
The report does not cover barriers to exports from the U.S. that are imposed by the U.S. government. Nor does it address U.S. barriers to exports from other countries.
4/2. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its long awaited CPNI order [101 pages in PDF].
Go to News from March 26-31, 2007.