Economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth argues that before new treaties are written, America needs to first hold 34 known countries accountable for intellectual-property theft.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in the realm of intellectual property, imitation is often theft. In many countries around the world, American intellectual property is routinely stolen.
Each year, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) publishes a report on intellectual-property theft around the world. This year’s report, published in April, lists 11 countries on the “Priority Watch List” that have “the most significant concerns regarding insufficient [intellectual-property rights, or IPR] protection or enforcement or actions that otherwise limited market access for persons relying on intellectual-property protection.” Those countries are Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela. Another 23 countries are on a “watch list.”
The tragedy is not just for American businesses but for ordinary Americans. Millions of Americans in all walks of life earn their livelihood from creating, protecting and promoting intellectual property. Millions of other people around the globe earn a livelihood stealing American intellectual property. Every day in every corner of the world, American intellectual property is stolen. Americans lose.
For decades, our government has done little to protect American intellectual property other than publish a few reports and give a few speeches. America continues to provide full access to American markets for offending countries. Pirate countries have little, if any, incentive to respect our property. The wonder is not that some countries steal our intellectual property; the wonder is that all countries don’t steal our intellectual property given the weakness of our response.
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