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Taiwan regrets being on IP watch list

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese officials expressed regret yesterday on a U.S. decision to keep the country on a watch list for intellectual property rights (IP) protection.

The Intellectual Property Office under the Ministry of Economic Affairs noted that Taiwan has long been working to establish a friendly environment for IP protection and urged the U.S. government to consider the efforts made by Taiwan in recent years.

The efforts have received recognition from the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, which recommended in March that the United States remove Taiwan from the “Special 301” watch list, the officials said.

In the annual Special 301 Report released Friday, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said an out-of-cycle review will be initiated soon and completed this summer to monitor progress on “selected outstanding issues” to assess whether to remove Taiwan from the list.

On Taiwan’s achievements in IPR protection over the past year, the report noted that the Legislative Yuan passed in June 2007 a new law aimed at ending illegal file sharing over peer-to-peer platforms, which enabled officials to shut down some of the worst violators.

Other progress made by Taiwan includes continued efforts to establish an IP section at the Special Prosecutors Office, and the creation and issuance in October 2007 of the Action Plan for Protecting IP Rights on School Campuses, the report said.

However, the USTR urges Taiwan to make the specialized IPR Court operational as soon as possible, continue to implement the 2007 Campus Action Plan, continue its efforts to combat counterfeiting and Internet piracy, and work closely with the Legislative Yuan to pass pending IPR legislation regarding liability of Internet service providers for copyright infringements.

Also, Taiwan is asked to continue to take effective action against piracy on the Internet, especially on TANet — the Internet service provider administered by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education — and against the unauthorized use of copyrighted material on or near universities.

The annual Special 301 Report, which reviews the adequacy and effectiveness of IPR protection by U.S. trade partners, placed nine countries on the Priority Watch List and 36 countries on the lower level Watch List for 2008.

After remaining on the Priority Watch List for four years, Taiwan was lowered to the Watch List at the end of 2004.

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