October 26, 2005

US presses China on anti-piracy enforcement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has asked China to
provide evidence of what it is doing to stop the "rampant"
piracy and counterfeiting of American goods ranging from movie,
music and software to auto parts, medicine and shampoo, U.S.
trade officials said on Wednesday.

"The United States is deeply concerned by the violations of
intellectual property rights in China," U.S. Trade
Representative Rob Portman said in a statement that the United
States was invoking a rarely used World Trade Organization
article to request the information.

"Based on all available information, piracy and
counterfeiting remain rampant in China despite years of
engagement on this 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 added.

U.S. movie, software and other copyright industries
estimates they lose more than $2.5 billion annually in China
due to piracy. Losses from counterfeiting of American
manufacturing and consumers goods could reach into tens of
billions of dollars annually, industry officials say.

A second U.S. trade official, speaking to reporters on
condition he not be identified, said the United States decided
for several reasons not to pursue a formal WTO complaint
against China at this time.

"This is an opportunity for us to work cooperatively with
China before taking any further steps in the WTO, the official
said. But if the effort does not lead to a significant drop in
Chinese piracy and counterfeiting levels, "all available
options are clearly on the table," the official added.

Japan and Switzerland have joined the United States in
making the request at the WTO. Washington has asked Beijing to
provide the requested information by January 23.

China has known for several months the request was coming,
but they have only recently received it and not said yet if
they would cooperate, the second U.S. official said.