December 11, 1996
Chairman of the GSP Subcommittee
of the Trade Policy Staff Committee
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW, Room 517
Washington, DC 20506
Re:Post-hearing Comments on the Review of Paraguay’s Eligibility as a GSP Beneficiary Developing Country (61 Fed. Reg. 52078, October 4, 1996)
Case: Paraguay: 013-CP-95
To the Subcommittee:
The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) submits the following comments to update the Subcommittee on events surrounding intellectual property rights protection and enforcement in Paraguay since the filing of our October 29, 1996 comments and our November 13 presentation before the Subcommittee at the GSP public hearings.
PIRACY and ENFORCEMENT
The local recording industry continues to take anti-piracy actions. On November 28, a large raid was conducted in Encarnacion (at the Argentine border) on a duplication facility and three warehouses; nine people were arrested. Twenty telex machines, 3 King loaders, 2 printing machines, 2 leader loaders, 15,000 insert cards, 1 truck and 1 million blank tapes (ready to be duplicated) were seized.
With respect to the August 1996 raid led by entertainment software industry representatives on a pirate videogame facility, we understand that this facility has been re-opened and is in full operation.
The key to continued enforcement is conducting active raids against major facilities, seizing all infringing products and equipment, making arrests, and conducting prosecutions leading to the imposition of deterrent penalties --including jail terms -- on the convicted defendants. To this end, several steps must be taken:
ACTIONS BY NATIONAL COUNCIL
On September 30, 1996, President Wasmosy issued a decree creating the National Intellectual Property Council which will be responsible for developing and executing an national anti-piracy campaign. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce heads the Council. We understand that regulations establishing this Council were completed in late October; IIPA does not have a copy of these regulations and cannot comment on their contents at this time. Reports indicate that the Council is spearheading increased media awareness on IPR infringement. Further information on the Council’s anti-piracy agenda is needed.
COPYRIGHT: It is extremely unlikely that the draft copyright law, presently pending in the Culture and Education Committee, will be voted on by Congress before it recesses on December 20. Congress will return in early March 1997.
We understand that a congressional subcommittee has been formed to study the draft copyright law, with technical assistance provided by a copyright consultant to the Ministry of Industry. As we have noted before, this draft law is a definite improvement over the current Paraguayan copyright law. A few amendments are needed to ensure that it is compatible with international standards. We hope that these substantive issues (previously raised by the U.S. Government, IIPA and IIPA members) will be addressed by the congressional subcommittee.
We remind members of the GSP Subcommittee that the passage of this Copyright Law will have little impact on piracy if the Paraguayan Government is not willing to enforce it. Even if the law were to pass by June 1997, there is a six-month delay before the law enters into effect. As a practical matter, this means that the current Paraguayan copyright law would remain in effect until 1998. Enforcement remains our highest priority.
CUSTOMS: Ineffective customs enforcement has contributed to growing copyright piracy in Paraguay. Importantly, customs authorities must have the authority to search, on their own initiative, all persons, objects and vehicles that enter or leave Paraguay and detain persons in possession of infringing goods. We understand that some border enforcement provisions are contained in the draft Trademark Law. However, no such measures appear to be included in the draft Copyright Law. Paraguay must provide effective border enforcement measures to reduce widespread distribution of infringing products.
TRADEMARK: Paraguay must amend its trademark law to protect well-known marks as required under the Paris Convention. The owners of well-known marks who have lost such protection in Paraguay should be allowed to recover their marks.
We appreciate the opportunity to provide the Subcommittee with this update.
Vice President and Associate General Counsel