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Intellectual Property Rights at risk

Remain Unprotected as Russia Seeks WTO Accession

As negotiations regarding Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) are moving forward more rapidly, the co-chairs of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus recently sent a letter to President Bush outlining their concerns about Russia's failure to protect intellectual property.

The Administration has indicated that bilateral agreements with Russia may conclude as soon as the end of October.

Co-chairs Sen. Gordon Smith, Sen. Joe Biden, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, and Rep. Adam Schiff urged the Administration "not to conclude a World Trade Organization (WTO) accession agreement with Russia unless and until Russia brings its enforcement regime for intellectual property rights (IPR) into compliance with international norms. This includes ensuring that the country's copyright laws and enforcement systems satisfy the provisions of the WTO TRIPS Agreement."

The WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement was achieved in the Uruguay Round and establishes minimum levels of protection for intellectual property for all participating WTO member nations. The TRIPS agreement covers five broad issues of implementing property rights protection including: how to apply the basic principles of the trading system and other international intellectual property agreements; how to adequately protect intellectual property rights; how individual countries should adequately enforce those rights in their own territories; how to settle intellectual property disputes between WTO members; and special transitional arrangements to cover the introductory period of the new system.

Unfortunately, piracy continues to proliferate in Russia despite continued assurances by the Russian government to crack down on intellectual property abuses. "Based on this experience, we believe that the U.S. government cannot rely on the Russian government's declarations that it will improve its enforcement of copyright law unless such assurances are accompanied by concrete actions to combat the rampant spread of copyright piracy," the letter stated.

"We strongly believe that concluding bilateral negotiations with Russia in spite of the Kremlin's continuing unwillingness to protect intellectual property rights will send a harmful message to Moscow and set a terrible precedent for negotiations with other nations that manifest indifference to violations of IPR,"
said the co-chairs.

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which was formed in 2003 by Senators Smith and Biden and Representatives Goodlatte and Schiff, is made up of 75 members of Congress.

The goal of the Caucus is to provide briefings for Congressional delegations traveling to countries with significant piracy problems, staff and member briefings and forums on international intellectual property protection and piracy, demonstrations of new technologies and products designed to improve consumers' entertainment experiences and to reduce piracy and to work closely with the committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate on related hearings and legislation.

CONTACT: Alise Kowalski with Rep. Goodlatte, 202-225-3329
* Sean Oblack with Rep. Schiff, 202-225-4176
* R.C. Hammond with Sen. Smith, 202-224-3753
* Elizabeth Alexander with Sen. Biden, 202-224-5042
* October 13, 2006

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