From the same agency that brought you the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—the United States Trade Representative (USTR)—comes a lesser-known, but also insidious global intellectual property gambit: the Special 301 Report. The Special 301 Report is a survey conducted under the auspices of the Trade Act and has been issued every year since 1989. The USTR, like a malevolent Santa Claus, assesses whether the other countries of the world have been naughty or nice in their treatment of U.S. intellectual property holders, and raps them over the knuckles if they don’t come up to scruff.
This would be absolutely fair enough, if the standards by which the other countries were assessed were globally-agreed standards, and if their adherence to those standards were assessed objectively, using a consistent and predictable methodology. But they’re not; rather, the USTR has free reign to castigate its trading partners for whatever reasons it can come up with. And it’s never short for ideas, because the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) supply complaints galore in the phonebook-length submissions that they file every year.