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Response To Queries On USTR Report

1 May 2002

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said the Government was concerned that the United States has included New Zealand on its 2002 Special 301 watchlist.

Mr Sutton said the United States action had been taken as a result of perception that our parallel importing policy constituted a threat to copyright protection, which was not true.

"New Zealand accords the highest importance to the protection of intellectual property rights and to adhering to our obligations under the WTO-TRIPs Agreement (Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). New Zealand's intellectual property rights regime is entirely consistent with WTO TRIPs provisions. This includes our legislation allowing for parallel importing.

"The government enacted legislation in 1998 (Copyright Act) for sound domestic policy reasons, including improved openness, competitiveness of the economy, and significant consumer benefits.

"Japan, Singapore and Australia all allow some parallel importing, as do the EU and the United States between their own states."

Mr Sutton said the government had undertaken an extensive review of the implications of parallel importing which included careful consideration of piracy and counterfeiting.

"The government treats the theft of intellectual property seriously. The Trade Marks Bill, which is likely to be passed into law later this year, introduces new offences and penalties to deter piracy and counterfeiting."

That: makes it an offence (ie a criminal matter) to counterfeit a registered trade mark, to falsely apply a registered trademark to goods and services, to make copies of a registered trade mark, import or sell goods with a falsely applied trade mark; amends the Copyright Act 1994 to increase the maximum imprisonment penalty for conviction of piracy from the current 3 months to 5 years; introduces the same penalty for counterfeiting a trade mark; and introduces monetary penalties for counterfeiting offences specified at the same level as currently in the Copyright Act.

Ends

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