USTR’s 2024 Special 301 Report cites IP concerns with 27 countries, some improvements

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The 2024 edition of the Special 301 Report identifies countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property (IP) rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on IP protection. It is published annually by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

USTR reviewed more than 100 trading partners for this year’s Special 301 Report, and placed 27 of them on the Priority Watch List or Watch List.  The Special 301 review of Ukraine has been suspended due to Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

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In March, Piracy Monitor published close-ups about Malaysia, the English Premier League, and the South Asia region based on comments submitted during the 2024 round of the Special 301 process.

Countries that merit attention

The report segmented countries of concern into two lists: a Watch List and a Priority Watch List.  Seven countries are on the Priority Watch List: Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and Venezuela.  These countries will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year, according to the US Trade Representative office.

Twenty trading partners are on the Watch List, and merit bilateral attention to address underlying IP problems: Algeria, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

Countries of concern

Some examples of the USTR’s concerns include:

  • China: Concerns remain regarding IP protection and enforcement in China. Stakeholders continue to raise concerns about implementation of the amended Patent LawCopyright Law, and Criminal Law, as well as about long-standing issues like technology transfer, trade secrets, bad faith trademarks, counterfeiting, online piracy, and geographical indications.
  • India: Despite progress, concerns include inadequate IP enforcement, including high rates of online piracy, an extensive trademark opposition backlog, and insufficient legal means to protect trade secrets.
  • Vietnam has increasingly become a leading source of online piracy and currently hosts some of the most popular piracy sites and services in the world that target a global audience.  Despite having criminal laws for copyright and trademark infringement, Vietnam has almost no criminal investigations or prosecutions.
  • Mexico needs to fully implement the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), including the obligations regarding IP, and to deal with concerns regarding the high prevalence of online piracy and counterfeit goods.


Despite its concerns, the USTR identified countries where progress has been made, including:

  • Saudi Arabia’s Authority for Intellectual Property created a national committee for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property to coordinate enforcement, reporting and to develop IP legislation
  • Brazil’s National Council on Combatting Piracy and IP Crimes provides a forum for communications between government agencies regarding IP enforcement, public policy, and public awareness
  • Indonesia expanded its Intellectual Property Enforcement Task Force across ten government agencies and coordinates complaints wiht the Indonesian National Police
  • South Africa’s Companies and IP Commission, Revenue Service and Police Service share responsibility and coordinate enforcement actions with a new South African Police Service National Counterfeit Unit.
  • Specialized IP enforcement units and IP courts have been launched in the Philippines and India

The USTR removed the Dominican Republic from the Watch List this year for significant progress on addressing concerns with IP enforcement and transparency. The Dominican Republic has committed to continue taking enforcement actions to combat copyright infringement, including signal piracy

Uzbekistan was also removed, after it enacted the authority to suspend and seize counterfeit imports and exports.  Uzbekistan also continues to give high-level political attention to IP.

Additional improvements were identified for Bulgaria, Peru and Armenia. Despite their identification as countries of concern, improvements were also identified for India and China.

Many countries were identified as having  participated in technical assistance and workshops coordinated with US government agencies.  Also, many countries are conducting IP awareness and educational campaign, individually and with other stakeholders.

Report process

The process that resulted in this report began in January with a call for comments, followed by a hearing and closure of the comment period in February.

Further reading

2024 Special 301 Report. Landing page. April 25, 2024. Office of the US Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President of the United States

2024 Special 301 Report. The report itself (PDF). April 25, 2024. Office of the US Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President of the United States

Browse All Comments. Landing page to access 87 comments submitted mostly by copyright stakeholders. 2024 Special 301 Review: Identification of Countries under Section 182 of the Trade act of 1974.  Office of the US Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President of the United States

Why it matters

The Special 301 Report and its companion piece, the Notorious Markets List – both issued by the Office of the US Trade Representative – inform policymakers, copyright stakeholders and government agencies – including governments outside of the US – of countries where copyright enforcement needs improvement, and of entities that commit copyright offenses.  The documents help these parties establish priorities for further research and policies toward recognizing and enforcing actions against violators.

Further background

Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974 (Trade Act) (19 U.S.C. 2242), commonly known as the Special 301 provisions, requires the U.S. Trade Representative to identify countries that deny adequate and effective IP protections or fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on IP protection. The Trade Act requires the U.S. Trade Representative to determine which, if any, of these countries to identify as Priority Foreign Countries. Acts, policies or practices that are the basis of a country’s identification as a Priority Foreign Country can be subject to the procedures set out in sections 301–305 of the Trade Act (19 U.S.C. 2411–2415).

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