October 28 2005.
Japan, Switzerland and the United States have initiated a special process under the World Trade Organization to obtain information on China's intellectual property enforcement efforts, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Portman said Wednesday.
The United States sent a written request on Tuesday for information to China under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which is a WTO rule. Japan and Switzerland joined in submitting similar requests the same day, according to the USTR and Japanese government.
The three countries expect a response from China by Jan. 23. It is the first time China is being asked to supply information under the 1995 WTO TRIPS agreement, a Japanese government official said in Tokyo on Thursday.
He added that only one similar action has been taken under the accord, when Cuba sought information on a law from the United States in 1998.
The move is aimed at increasing pressure on Beijing by taking the case to the WTO for multilateral negotiations. The three countries have been working to improve the piracy situation in China through bilateral negotiations, according to officials.
''We will utilize all tools at our disposal to ensure that U.S. intellectual property rights are protected,'' Portman said, noting that piracy and counterfeiting remain ''rampant'' in China despite years of bilateral talks on the issue.
''If China believes that it is doing enough to protect intellectual property, then it should view this process as a chance to prove its case,'' Portman said.
''Our goal is to get detailed information that will help pinpoint exactly where the enforcement system is breaking down so we can decide appropriate next steps,'' he said.
The Japanese official said the United States appears to be concerned about piracy of its films, music, computer software and medicine, while Japan suffers damage from the distribution of pirated Japanese music and counterfeit goods including motorcycles and household appliances in China.
Switzerland is also believed to be troubled by the circulation of illegally copied items such as Swiss watches and drugs in China, he said.
The U.S. request calls for the clarification of various cases of intellectual property right enforcement that China has made between 2001 and 2004. Japan urged China to identify its enforcement actions undertaken between 2001 and the first half of 2005.
Japan conducted its first survey on China's antipiracy policy earlier this year. In a report released in June, Tokyo concluded that it considers Beijing's measures to fight piracy to be weak as the authorities in most cases only confiscated pirated goods and rarely resorted to criminal prosecution of the offenders.
Japanese companies polled in the survey said they suffered additional damage from exports of pirated goods from China to regions as far as the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Source: Nikkie Net