US removes Philippines from copyright watch list

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has been removed from a watch list for US trade partners exhibiting problems with intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, enforcement or market access.

The announcement was made by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) which said it has "determined to remove the Philippines from the Special 301 Watch List."

This Watch List identifies "countries that deny adequate and effective protection for intellectual property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access for persons that rely on intellectual property protection.”

In removing the Philippines from the watch list, the USTR cited the enactment of "a series of significant legislative and regulatory reforms to enhance” IPR protection and enforcement in the country. Civil and administrative enforcement in this regard has also improved, it said. (READ: Aquino presses for PH inclusion in Pacific trade deal)

"Although significant challenges remain, the commitment of Philippine authorities and the results achieved merit this change in status.  The United States will continue to engage with the Philippines to address unresolved and future challenges," it said. 

The Philippines has appeared on the Watch List or Priority Watch List continuously since 1994, and was first listed in 1989. 

The USTR said that a trading partner’s inclusion on the watch list "indicates that particular problems exist in that country or economy with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property."

"Trading partners on the Priority Watch List become the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas," it said. – Rappler.com