The United States has now added Canada to its watch list of countries that do not adequately protect and enforce IP rights. This puts Canada on the same level with China, which has been been at the top of the list for 14 consecutive years.

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) recently released its report on intellectual property rights named Special 301 Report. In this document, the USA discusses those nations that have failed to implement adequate intellectual property protection strategies according to US assessments, which results in damage to US manufacturers. The biggest surprise: along with repeat offenders such as China, India and Russia, Canada is now also included in the priority watch list of the United States.

According to the report, the reason for this is that Canada is so far “failing to make progress on overcoming important IP enforcement challenges.” First and foremost, the USTR’s office criticizes the poor track record of Canadian Customs when it comes to controlling and possibly confiscating counterfeit or pirated goods shipped through Canada (we reported).

The Office of the USTR moreover criticizes the lack of transparency in the protection of indicators of origin and inadequate copyright protection. For example, the US pharmaceutical industry complains that generic versions of US-patented drugs are entering the US market unhindered in large quantities and at dumping prices via Canada.

“This report sends a clear signal to our trading partners that the protection of Americans’ intellectual property rights is a top priority of the Trump Administration” said Robert Lighthizer, US Trade Representative. In addition to Canada, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, and Venezuela are also on the US watch list.

According to the Office of the USTR, the US does not want to accept the status quo for IP protection in the twelve watch list countries without a fight. “The IP issues in these countries will be the subject of intense bilateral engagement during the coming year,” the USTR stated in a press release on the current report.

Sources: USTR, Global News, Reuters, The Star