These Countries Pose The Biggest IP Protection Threats, according to the U.S.

Countries the U.S. Sees as Threat to Patents and IP

Countries the U.S. Sees as Threat to Patents and IP

Intellectual property infringement, including patent violations, trademark counterfeiting, copyright piracy, and trade secret theft brings significant financial losses for both individuals and businesses and is a United States government concern. IP infringement can compromise the country’s competitive advantage in innovation and creativity.

“In its most pernicious forms, IP infringement endangers the public, such as through exposure to health and safety risks from counterfeit products such as semiconductors, automobile parts, apparel, footwear, toys, and medicines,” says the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which warns that 11 countries raise top concerns about IP protection.

Here are the countries on the U.S. 2019 Priority Watch List for posing trade barriers to American companies and products due to their intellectual property laws.


China went through a government reorganization that included intellectual property responsibilities of various agencies. The country proposed revisions of laws and regulations but despite the effort, “China failed to make fundamental structural changes to strengthen IP protection and enforcement, open China’s market to foreign investment, allow the market a decisive role in allocating resources, and refrain from government interference in private sector technology transfer decisions,” says the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Learn more about China.


U.S. trade officials say American rights holders struggle with inadequate and non-effective intellectual property protection and enforcement in Indonesia, as well as having fair market access. Washington sees Indonesia as an IP protection threat primarily because of widespread piracy and counterfeiting in the Southeast Asian country, and for not having effective enforcement against counterfeiting.

Learn more about Indonesia.


The fastest-growing large economy in the world, India is also one of the most challenging when it comes to intellectual rights protection, according to Washington. “In particular, India has yet to take steps to address long-standing patent issues that affect innovative industries,” say the authors of the Trade Representative report.

U.S. companies spanning across various industries are concerned about narrow patent standards in India, as well as threats of compulsory licensing and patent revocations and very broad criteria for issuing licenses and revocations in the country. In addition, “patent applicants face costly and time-consuming patent opposition hurdles, long timelines for receiving patents, and excessive reporting requirements,” according to the report.

Learn more about India.


The U.S. government considers Algeria to still struggle with granting “fair and equitable market access for U.S. intellectual property (IP) right holders in Algeria, notably for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers,” the Trade Representative report says. In addition, Algeria has banned imports on a large number of pharmaceutical products and medical devices to favor local products. This, the U.S. government adds, “remains a trade matter of serious concern.”

Learn more about Algeria.


Since 2016, Kuwait has made progress in establishing effective copyright and related rights laws. Yet the U.S. government warns that “necessary steps still remain for Kuwait’s copyright regime in light of international commitments, including with respect to the term of protection; limitations on the amount of work reproduced; enforcement, remedies and damages; and definitions.”

Intellectual property rights holders in Kuwait struggle with the difficulty in having Kuwaiti government officials remove illicit physical goods from the country’s market. A lack of transparency in administrative and criminal proceedings is also an issue.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia took a spot on the U.S. 2019 priority watch list because, the report says, of a deterioration in intellectual property protection for innovative pharmaceutical products. In addition, the nation raises “long outstanding concerns regarding enforcement against counterfeit and pirated goods within the country.”

Learn more about Saudi Arabia.


Ongoing challenges and concerns about intellectual property protection and enforcement in Russia include “continued copyright infringement, trademark counterfeiting, and the existence of non-transparent procedures governing the operation of collective management organizations,” says the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

U.S. trade officials are concerned about IP enforcement in Russia having decreased throughout the past decade. Additionally, Russian enforcement agencies don’t have enough staff, expertise, and political motivation to make progress in this field, say U.S. trade officials.

Learn more about Russia.


Ukraine has made some progress with intellectual property safeguards, but “concerns remain,” says the U.S. government. Trade officials in Washington say the Eastern European country has an unfair, opaque system that oversees the collection and distribution of royalties to right holders.

U.S. trade officials also say Ukraine practices the widespread use of unlicensed software in its government agencies and has failed to implement effective ways to tackle online copyright infringement.

Learn more about Ukraine.


U.S. trade officials blame Argentina for deficiencies in its legal framework for patents and broad limitations on patent-eligible subject matter.

“Pursuant to a highly problematic 2012 Joint Resolution establishing guidelines for the examination of patents, Argentina rejects patent applications for categories of pharmaceutical inventions that are eligible for patentability in other jurisdictions, including in the United States,” say the authors of the U.S. trade report.

Learn more about Argentina.


U.S. trade officials salute Chile’s efforts to implement certain intellectual property obligations under the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement. However, American trade officials still express concern about the implementation of other IP provisions of the free trade pact.

“Chile took a step forward in passing legislation establishing criminal penalties for the importation, commercialization, and distribution of decoding devices used for the theft of encrypted program carrying satellite signals,” says the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Learn more about Chile.


The U.S. trade officials say Venezuela lacks effective intellectual property protection and enforcement. “Venezuela’s reinstatement several years ago of its 1955 Industrial Property Law, which falls below the standards in international trade agreements and treaties that Venezuela subsequently ratified, has created significant uncertainty and deterred investments related to innovation and IP protection in recent years,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative concludes.

Countries The U.S. Sees as Threats to Patents and IP

— China

— Indonesia

— India

— Algeria

— Kuwait

— Saudi Arabia

— Russia

— Ukraine

— Argentina

— Chile

— Venezuela

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