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Cablegate: 2007 Special 301 Review Post Input

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUJA #0343 0530707
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 220707Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8672
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 6198
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS ABUJA 000343

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USTR
TREASURY FOR DAN PETERS
USDOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
USDOC FOR 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD KIPR NI
SUBJECT: 2007 SPECIAL 301 REVIEW POST INPUT

Ref: State 7944

1. Given the very short time between when post learned that, for
the first time, Nigeria had been nominated by industry for inclusion
on the Special 301 list and the deadline for post submission, we can
offer only limited input.

2. Nigerian industry, U.S. industry, and the Nigerian government all
recognize the serious problems raised by IPR issues in Nigeria. In
the trade and investment field, IPR stands out as an area in which
there is political will to take action, and where authorities who
deal with IPR issues have been very open to cooperation and
collaboration with the U.S. and concerned industries. We have sent
a considerable number of Nigerian officials to the U.S. for training
through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The U.S. DOJ OPDAT
conducted several courses to train prosecutors on how to handle IPR
cases. The Commerce Department Commercial Law Development Program
has carried out professional and legal seminars on IPR issues here
in Nigeria. All of these efforts have received the full cooperation
of the GON, and have been very well attended by both senior and
working level officials, including high court judges and agency
heads. Nigerian police occasionally carry out well-publicized raids
on caches of pirated goods. In the pharmaceutical field, there has
been significant progress in reducing the amount of counterfeit
drugs available.

3. The Nigerian recording industry has raised serious concerns about
Chinese optical disc plants that have located in Nigeria. As noted
by IIPC the government has begun to respond and has enacted new
optical disc regulations that are now being put into place.

4. Post agrees with the IIPA report that enforcement is the weak
spot. This problem is not confined to IPR issues, however. In
virtually every field of legal and criminal activity, enforcement is
very weak. Even in high profile, high priority areas for the GON
such as anti-corruption efforts and efforts to combat so-called 419
fraud, or areas where there is intense international pressure and
scrutiny such as drug trafficking, enforcement continues to be
limited, slow and ineffective, reflecting the very low capacity of
Nigerian law enforcement institutions. This is a systemic problem
that will not yield to quick fixes or even higher levels of
political attention.

5. Although we do not dispute that software, print and particularly
optical media piracy is a serious and growing problem in Nigeria,
post is concerned that placing Nigeria on the Special 301 Watch list
could be counterproductive to our goals. We would note the GON is
aware of the problem, is taking steps to address the problem and the
attitude of GON officials responsible for IPR issues is open and
responsive to U.S. messages on the issue. We understand that DOC's
CLDP is preparing a proposal for USAID/Washington central funding to
do expanded IPR programs in Nigeria. Placing Nigeria on the Watch
List risks turning a cordial, cooperative relationship into one that
is more adversarial and defensive, and ultimately less productive.

6. The timing in particular is problematic. Nigeria's current
president will be stepping down in the face of term limits following
an election in April and a new President will take office in May.
Placing Nigeria on the 301 Watch List just as the new administration
enters office will be politically awkward. On a practical level, the
newly elected parliament will be officially seated in late May and
then adjourn for the summer, with parliament resuming work in the
fall. New ministers and appointees will be settling in, but in
general very little government activity will be taking place until
fall, at which time a number of urgent post-electoral issues are
likely to dominate the political agenda. It is highly unlikely that
the Government of Nigeria would be able to focus much attention on
IPR issues and accomplish IIPA's list of proposed actions for 2007
in 2007, which would set the stage for a 2008 finding that Nigeria
had failed to take action as requested and ratcheting up negative
rhetoric at about the point where we could otherwise expect to be
getting some traction in addressing IPR issues under the new
government.

7. For the reasons given above, post would not recommend putting
Nigeria on the Special 301 list for 2007, the admitted problems with
IPR enforcement notwithstanding. We can ensure that the appropriate
GON officials are aware that Nigeria was nominated for the 2007
list, and is likely to be nominated again in 2008, so that they can
be prepared to offer a country submission in the 2008 process.
CAMPBELL

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