On Friday, May 17, President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation directing the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to negotiate trade agreements to address the national security threat posed by imports of foreign automobiles and certain automotive parts. The proclamation provides for 180 days of negotiations, delaying the decision on whether to impose import restrictions
Section 301 Tariff Increase: Goods on the Water and Foreign Trade Zones
Effective May 10, 2019 importations of merchandise covered under the Section 301 third tranche, manufactured in China and entered into the U.S., are subject to the increase in additional duties from 10 to 25%. However, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection updated guidance, the increased duties of 25% will not apply to goods a)…
USTR Releases Annual Special 301 Intellectual Property Report
On April 25, 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) issued its 2019 “Special 301 Report” on inadequate protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights by the United States’ trading partners. USTR has issued a Special 301 Report each year since 1989 pursuant to section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974. The Special 301 Report reflects the culmination of a public comment and hearing process allowing all interested parties – domestic businesses and industries, civil society groups, trade associations, think tanks, and other stakeholders – to identify foreign countries and expose the laws, policies, and practices that fail to provide adequate and effective IP protection and enforcement for U.S. inventors, creators, brands, manufacturers, and service providers. The Special 301 Report and process provides an important opportunity for IP-intensive U.S. industries to highlight adverse cross-border IP rights issues and help shape the Administration’s priorities as it engages with trading partners on IP and related market access issues.
Countries that are identified as falling short with respect to protection, enforcement, and market access for IP-intensive industries are listed in the Special 301 Report in one of three ways. Countries with the most egregious acts, policies, or practices that have the greatest adverse impact on U.S. companies and products are listed Priority Foreign Countries (“PFC”). PFCs are subject to investigation and potential trade sanctions such as tariffs, quotas, or other measures. A country may not be listed as a PFC under the law if it is entering into good faith negotiations or making significant progress toward providing and enforcing IP rights. Notably, USTR may designate a country as a PFC even if …
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Trump Administration Proposes Tariffs on Imports of EU Products
In response to a long running dispute with the European Union (EU) over subsidies to Airbus, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has proposed additional tariffs on certain products of the EU covering approximately $11 billion in trade. The proposed list covers 317 tariff subheadings and includes fish, cheese, olive oil, wine, leather handbags, textiles, wool…
Senate Finance Committee Asks USTR Lighthizer: What is the Future of the WTO?
On Tuesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified before the Senate Finance Committee to discuss a question that is central to the Trump Administration’s trade policy agenda: What is the future of the World Trade Organization (WTO)? As the 25th anniversary of the 1994 creation of the WTO (in its current form) approaches, the Trump Administration has been vocal in its criticism of the WTO’s shortcomings and failure to abide by the text of the agreements as written in 1994. The Administration has pledged, as part of its overall trade policy, to seek critical reforms that will improve and reform the WTO’s functions going forward. And, as Senator Wyden put it, trade issues including WTO challenges are one of the least known and biggest problems facing the United States’ ability to create good paying jobs and to expand our markets.
Ambassador Lighthizer answered questions on a number of topics relating to the WTO and, more generally, current U.S. trade policies:…
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Duty Preferences for India and Turkey to Be Revoked
On Monday, March 4th, President Trump announced that India and Turkey will no longer benefit from the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences (“GSP”) program. The GSP program, established by the Trade Act of 1974, is designed to promote economic development by eliminating duties on certain eligible products when imported from a beneficiary…
Third Wave of Section 301 Tariff Increases Officially Delayed
On March 5, 2019, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) published a notice in the Federal Register officially postponing the date on which the rate of Section 301 duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods (i.e., List 3 items) will increase from 10% to 25%.
USTR’s notice follows President Trump’s announcement of…
Trump Issues 2019 Trade Agenda: China, USMCA, WTO Reform, and More
The Trump Administration has issued its 2019 trade policy agenda in a several hundred page report to the Congress. The report covers a broad range of trade topics, many of which have been at the forefront of the Administration’s agenda for the past couple of years. These include renegotiating the NAFTA into the USMCA, WTO…
McDonald’s Big Loss in Big Mac Case
On January 15, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) revoked McDonald’s registered trademark, “Big Mac.” The name “Big Mac” had been protected in the EU for more than 20 years under international classes 29, 30, and 42 for foods, sandwiches, and services of franchise restaurants, respectively. Trademarks, which provide legal protections for names, among other things, can be extremely valuable assets for businesses and protect consumers in their purchasing decisions. The January 15 decision will likely create some concern, if not confusion, for international businesses in how they might protect their brands in major markets. McDonald’s quickly announced that it plans to appeal the decision, which is set against a backdrop of US-EU trade negotiations and a recent increased focus on intellectual property in trade negotiations.
In its decision, EUIPO found that the evidence McDonald’s provided to prove the genuine use of the name “Big Mac” in the EU, including websites, posters, packing, and affidavits from company representatives in Germany, France, and the UK, was not sufficient. EUIPO said about the websites, “it could not be concluded whether, or how, a purchase could be made or an order could be placed.” In addition, the regulating body took issue with brochures because there had been no evidence provided as to whom the brochures were given or how they were dispersed. The administrative decision also discussed that although some evidence was provided of use, McDonald’s did not prove the extent of use of its mark.
The case to cancel the international fast food giant’s protection was brought by an Irish fast food chain, Supermac’s. Patrick McDonagh, the managing director of Supermac’s, stated that the intention of the case was to “shine a light on the use of trademark bullying.” …
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Comment Opportunity: U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has opened a public comment period in connection with the proposed U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement negotiations. On October 16, 2018, USTR notified Congress of its intent to enter into trade talks with Japan. Those discussions cannot begin until mid-January 2019 at the earliest under the requirements of the Trade Promotion Authority law.
Any member of the public – including individual companies, industry coalitions, and trade associations – may submit written comments to USTR by November 26, 2018. That is also the deadline to submit written notice of intent to testify, along with a summary of intended testimony, at a public hearing to be held on December 10, 2018 at 9:30 am. The hearing will be held by the Trade Policy Staff Committee, an interagency committee chaired by USTR and comprised of 20 executive branch agencies that provide input into the Administration’s trade-related decision-making through review of policy papers and negotiating documents, and eliciting public feedback. Procedures are available for commenters to submit business confidential information. …
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