The annual “priority watch list,” released by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office last Thursday, said that despite increased attention toward intellectual property rights in China, officials there are pushing for less-stringent enforcement efforts, a concerning trend for footwear companies struggling to protect their brands abroad.
“I am particularly troubled by reports that Chinese officials are urging more lenient enforcement of [intellectual property rights] laws, motivated by the financial crisis and the need to maintain jobs,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “China needs to strengthen its approach to IPR protection and enforcement, not weaken it.”
According to the most recent statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, $102.3 million worth of fake shoes were seized in fiscal year 2008, which accounted for 38 percent of all infringing goods seized. China was the source of 81 percent of all goods seized for intellectual property violations in 2008. China was one of 12 countries named on the USTR’s priority watch list for countries that don’t adequately safeguard or enforce intellectual property rights. The list also included Russia, India, Thailand, Pakistan and, for the first time, Canada.