Guest Post: USTR’s OCR of Notorious Markets, 2013

ustrWe’re happy to bring you a 2 part guest series by Nishidh Patel, a final year student at RGSOIPL, IIT Kharagpur. Nishidh also has a PG diploma in Patent law (Nalsar) and a Master of Pharmacy – PQA (MSU, Baroda). He also blogs on IP matters here. The first of the two posts picks up on one of USTR’s reports highlighting India’s counterfeit markets. The second post goes on to examine the legal landscape for counterfeits in India.

An Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) is a tool that the USTR (United States Trade Representative) uses to monitor IPR issues of concern to them. It provides an opportunity for heightened engagement with trading partners to address and remedy such issues. Successful resolution of specific IPR issues of concern can lead to a change in a trading partner’s status on the Special 301 list outside of the typical time frame for the annual Special 301 Report. In 2010, USTR began publishing the Notorious Markets List as an OCR separately from the annual Special 301 Report. The Notorious Markets List identifies selected markets, including online markets, that are reportedly engaged in piracy and counterfeiting, according to information submitted to USTR in response to their request for comments. For the 2012 edition, the USTR requested such comments on August 14, 2012, and published the 2012 OCR of Notorious Markets on December 13, 2012. Under the category of physical markets, this particular report mentioned Nehru Place (New Delhi, India) as one of the many markets in major cities throughout India known for counterfeit goods & exact text is as reproduced below:

Physical Markets – Nehru Place (New Delhi, India)

Nehru Place is reportedly one of the many markets in major cities throughout India that are known for dealing in large volumes of pirated software, pirated optical media containing movies and music, and counterfeit goods.

Swaraj Paul Barooah wrote a blogpost, “USTR’s Special 301 Process 2013 – India on Priority Watchlist” covering the various aspects of the 2013 Special 301 Report which also mentioned that USTR plans to conduct an OCR on notorious markets in the fall of 2013. In furtherance of that, the Office of the United States Trade Representative published a request for comments in the 2013 Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets in the Federal Register dated September 20, 2013. USTR notice provided a deadline for comments on October 11, 2013 which was later extended to October 25, 2013.

In response to that, written comments were submitted by INTERNATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ALLIANCE (IIPA) and Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA), amongst others. These comments suggested an increase in the list of markets in major cities throughout India known for counterfeit goods as compared to 2012’s report. Coincidentally, both these written comments which were filed on October 25, 2013, mention the same Indian cities in the same sequence & in nearly the same format.

 Pertinent text of both the written comments has been reproduced as below:

Physical Markets – India

Richie Street, Censor Plaza and Burma Bazaar (Chennai); Bara Bazaar (Kolkata); Chandini Chowk, Palika Bazaar (underground market) and Sarojini Nagar Market (Delhi); Navyuk Market Ambedkar Road and Nehru Nagar Market (Ghaziabad); Kallupur Market and Laldarwajah (Ahmedabad); Jail Road and Rajwada (Indore); Manish Market, Lamington Road, Dadar Train Station, Andheri Station Market, Borivili Train Station and Thane Station Market (Mumbai).

counterfeit - sdiasaThe addition of places to the above list by IIPA & MPAA can be linked to an increase in the frequency of police raids carried out at such places, suggesting that such places are epicenters for the availability of counterfeit goods in India. A review of markets in major cities throughout India known for counterfeit goods vis-a-vis its impact on Indian economy & efforts taken by Government of India and/or other bodies will be discussed in the next blog post.

As far as U.S. is concerned, the Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets does not cover information on physical markets in U.S.. However it is worth mentioning that internet markets described in the written comments submitted by IIPA & MPAA to USTR show that there are lots of visitors from U.S. to such pirate websites & some of them do host their servers in U.S. While it may be too early to judge the objectivity of these reports, that hasn’t stopped some people from terming the U.S. “notorious markets list” as unfair. As stated above, my next post will now look into the counterfeit landscape in India. In the meanwhile, readers’ opinions & comments are welcomed.

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