Ecuador joins Argentina, Chile and Venezuela among South American countries on the latest U.S. “black list” for alleged intellectual property rights violations. Ecuador’s blacklisting is a downgrade from last year’s classification as being “under observation.”
According to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Ecuador made the black list as a result of a new law that decriminalized some intellectual property violations. In its comment on Ecuador’s new status, the USTR said “The United States urges Ecuador to reverse the legislative action taken last year and re-criminalize intellectual property violations.”
The USTR report continued: “Ecuador’s lack of controls and criminal penalties invites international crime groups dedicated to copyright piracy and counterfeiting to operate in the country.” Specifically, the report said intellectual property right violations occurred in the pharmaceutical, chemical and agricultural industries. It also said the country does not do enough to stop sales of counterfeit music and movies.
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry responded to the new classification by saying that the decriminalization of certain intellectual property offenses was a technical adjustment and not a signal that the county does not respect copyright laws. “There is a misunderstanding by the U.S. trade representative. Ecuador respects its obligations in international trade agreements, of which it is a signatory. We will comply with all rules and provisions of the international Agreement on Trade of Intellectual Property Rights and Foreign Trade.”
A number of other Latin American countries are listed in the USTR’s report as being on a watch list for violations. They include Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Peru. Canada is also on the latest list of violators.
Outside the Americas, other countries on the black list are China, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Russia and Ukraine.
Several countries friendly to the U.S. have complained about the unilateral nature of the USTR’s black list. “I disagree with one country compiling a black list of other countries for such violations,” said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “This is a matter that should be handled by a consortium of nations. It seems rather arrogant for one country to appoint itself arbiter in such matters.”