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The United States (US) Government believes Barbados is still not doing enough to protect intellectual property (IP) rights.
As a result, it has kept Barbados on a watch list of trading partners and warned that “enforcement actions” could be pursued either under US law or international “dispute settlement procedures”.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently issued the 2020 edition of its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of trading partners’ protection of intellectual property rights
American authorities said in the 94-page report document that Barbados was one of 33 countries “that currently present the most significant concerns regarding IP rights”.
The report noted that Barbados acceded to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Internet Treaties on December 13, 2019, but “has not proposed intellectual property legislation to implement its treaty obligations”.
“Evidence of a strong commitment to enforce existing legislation also remains incomplete. In the realm of copyright and related rights, the United States continues to have concerns about the unauthorised retransmission of US broadcasts and cable programming by local cable operators in Barbados, including state-owned broadcasters, without adequate compensation to US right holders,” said the USTR.
“The United States also has continuing concerns about the refusal of Barbadian TV and radio broadcasters and cable and satellite operators to pay for public performances of music.”
Officials urged Barbados to “take all administrative actions necessary, without undue delay, to ensure that all composers and songwriters receive the royalties they are owed for the public performance of their musical works”.
“The longstanding failure to enforce judgments and other successful outcomes for right holders and the resulting lack of deterrence are additional sources of concern. The United States looks forward to working with Barbados to resolve these and other important issues,” the report added.
Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic were the only other Caribbean islands named on the USTR’s watch list.
The US Government agency said Barbados and other trading partners named “will be the subject of increased bilateral engagement with USTR to address IP concerns”.
“Over the coming weeks, USTR will review the developments against the benchmarks established in the Special 301 action plans for those countries.
“For countries failing to address US concerns, USTR will take appropriate actions, which may include enforcement actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act or pursuant to World Trade Organisation or other trade agreement dispute settlement procedures,” it warned.
USTR Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that the Donald Trump administration “is committed to holding intellectual property rights violators accountable and to ensuring that American innovators and creators have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their work”. (SC)