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USTR Announces Annual Special 301 Review

On December 28, 2018, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced, in the Federal Register, its annual Special 301 Review. Each year, pursuant to the Trade Act of 1974, the USTR is required 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. Based on the outcome of this review, the USTR may designate a country as a Priority Foreign Country (PFC) if the country engages in the most onerous and egregious acts, policies, and procedures that deny adequate IP protection, has the greatest adverse impact on U.S. products, and is not entering into good faith bilateral or multilateral negotiations to protect IP rights. Procedures set out in Sections 301 to 305 of the Trade Act can be imposed on a particular PFC. Further, this review will allow the USTR to place certain countries on an agency created “Priority Watch List” or “Watch List,” with the former determined to have serious IP rights deficiencies that will garner close scrutiny in the years to come.

To reach these determinations, the USTR’s Special 301 Subcommittee will rely on information from multiple sources, including written comments and public testimony regarding IP issues in foreign countries. Interested parties who wish to submit written comments and/or give public testimony should be aware of the following dates:

  • February 7, 2019: Deadline for submission of written comments, hearing statements, and notices of intent to appear at the public hearing.
  • February 21, 2019: Deadline for submission of written comments, hearing statements, and notices of intent to appear at the hearing from foreign governments.
  • February 27, 2019: The Special 301 Subcommittee will hold a public hearing in Washington, D.C. If necessary, the hearing may continue on the next business day.
  • March 5, 2019: Deadline for submission of post-hearing written comments from persons who testified at the public hearing.
  • On or about April 26, 2019: The USTR will publish the 2019 Special 301 Report within 30 days of the publication of the National Trade Estimate.

Written comments should provide necessary information to identify the effect of a particular country’s acts, policies, and practices. To that end, written comments should include:

  • Specific references to laws, regulations, policy statements, including innovation policies, executive, presidential, or other orders, and administrative, court, or other determinations that should factor in the review;
  • If relevant, particular regions, provinces, states or other subdivisions of a country in which an act, policy or practice is believed to warrant special attention; and
  • Data, loss estimates, and other information regarding the economic impact on the U.S., any U.S. industry, and the U.S. workforce. Comments that include quantitative loss claims should include the method used to calculate the estimated losses.

Companies that have identified IP issues in foreign countries are encouraged to participate in the Special 301 review process. As the dates detailed above are fast approaching, it is important that companies organize quickly to submit comments and to prepare for the public hearing.

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About this Author

Kathleen Murphy, International trade Lawyer, Drinker Biddle
Partner

Kathleen M. Murphy counsels clients on maximizing trade benefits, making informed global procurement decisions and developing domestic and international trade compliance programs. She represents clients in duty-recovery initiatives and customs challenges concerning tariff classification, valuation, Free Trade Agreements and country of origin determinations, among other areas. She guides clients through compliance audits and validations, as well as penalty investigations conducted by U.S. or foreign customs authorities. She also represents clients in...

312-569-1155
Luke Karamyali, Drinker Biddle Law Firm, Chicago, International Trade Law Attorney
Associate

Luke J. Karamyalil assists his clients in all aspects of international trade laws and regulations, including import and export compliance. He also assists clients in ensuring their internal processes meet Customs’ “reasonable care” standard. Luke has experience helping clients navigate specific trade laws and regulations, including those that arise under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, anti-boycott compliance, Foreign Ownership, Control, or Influence (FOCI) mitigation, and anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

Prior to joining the firm, Luke practiced law at a Washington D.C. based law firm where he advised on international trade, corporate, and franchise matters. During law school, he served as a legal extern for the Hon. Paul W. Grimm, US District Court for the District of Maryland, and as a law clerk for Judge William H. Hooks of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Luke is fluent in Malayalam.

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