The US has once again included India in the ‘priority watch list’ of countries, along with China, Russia, Venezuela, and three others, for alleged problems related to IP protection and enforcement, and has said there will be particularly intense bilateral engagement on the matter during the coming year.

There has been progress under the US-India Trade Policy Forum in addressing issues with trademark infringement investigations and pre-grant opposition proceedings, but numerous long-standing concerns remain, per the US Trade Representative’s 2024 Special 301 Report released on Thursday. 


“These include inadequate IP enforcement, including high rates of online piracy, an extensive trademark opposition backlog, and insufficient legal means to protect trade secrets, it said. Among other things, India still needs to fully implement the WIPO Internet Treaties and ensure that copyright statutory licences do not extend to interactive transmissions,” the report added.

The USTR releases the Special 301 Report annually, highlighting the state of IP protection and enforcement regimes in various countries it trades with.

India has been placed on the ‘priority watch’ list of countries for many years, which, according to the USTR office, indicates that serious problems exist in the country with respect to IP protection, enforcement, or market access for Americans relying on IP.

India’s stance

New Delhi, however, has always maintained that its intellectual property laws were in strict adherence to the WTO’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and that it was not bound by any global rules to make changes in its laws.

No action is threatened by the US against countries on the ‘priority watch list’, but if a country slips further and is categorised as a ‘priority country’, Washington may impose ‘retaliatory’ measures.

Indonesia, Chile, and Argentina also feature in the ‘priority watch list’ of seven countries.

Twenty trading partners are on the ‘watch list’, which include countries that the US believes merit bilateral attention to address underlying IP problems but are better than the `priority watch list’ countries. Algeria, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam are all on the ‘watch list’ of the 2024 Special 301 Report.