Sunday, November 13, 2011

Press Russia on intellectual property: US lawmakers

WASHINGTON — Russia must take "transparent, substantive and prompt actions" to battle rampant intellectual property theft before it can join the World Trade Organization, key lawmakers urged in a letter released Thursday.
The chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees told US Trade Representative Ron Kirk they had "serious concerns over continuing gaps and lapses" in Moscow's enforcement of intellectual property rights.
"A high standard accession package will be essential before both Houses of Congress can consider a vote to remove Russia" from a 1974 US law that blocks Moscow from joining the WTO, they said.
The lawmakers -- Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican Representative Lamar Smith, Democratic Representative John Conyers -- cited two US government reports as raising red flags.
One report from Kirk's office cited "widespread counterfeiting and piracy of hard goods; storage of pirated CDs and DVDs on several government-controlled military-industrial sites" and inadequate law enforcement and prosecution.
And a recently released US intelligence report decried Russian cyber espionage targeting US corporations.
"The findings in these reports raise serious questions about the intention and commitment of the Russian government to abide by and enforce the obligations it will assume as a member of the WTO," the lawmakers said.
"The government of Russia must demonstrate via transparent, substantive and prompt actions its commitment to adhere fully to the obligations it will assume as a future member of the WTO," they wrote.
Moscow cleared its last hurdle for WTO accession just Wednesday when it finally clinched a deal with last hold-out Georgia, which was able to veto any accession bid by virtue of its membership to the trade body.
Russia applied to join the trade body in 1993 but talks dragged on and its brief war with Georgia in 2008 further delayed the bid.
No other country has had to barter so long before being granted entry. China was the previous record holder with 15 years of negotiations for membership.

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