The Bush Administration put China, Russia and 10 other countries on a "priority watch list" for copyright infringement, a status that makes it more likely the US could bring trade cases against them in the World Trade Organization, the Washington Post reports.
"We must defend ideas, inventions and creativity from rip-off artists and thieves," U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab said in a statement accompanying this year's report.
The administration earlier this month announced that it was filing two new trade cases against China before the World Trade Organization. One of those cases charged that China was lax in enforcing its laws on protecting American copyrights and patents.
The annual report, known as a "Special 301 Report," said that China has a special stake in upgrading its protection of intellectual property rights, given that its companies will be threatened by rampant copyright piracy as they increase their own innovation. The 10 countries other countries placed on the priority watch list were Argentina, Chile, Egypt, India, Israel, Lebanon, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela.
Oxfam America denounced the administration for what the international development agency said was a misstatement of the rights of U.S. companies under international trade rules.
"The report ignores important international agreements signed by the U.S. government ... which clearly state that developing countries have the right to place public health and the public interest over intellectual property rules," said Rohit Malpani, a policy adviser with Oxfam.