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Cablegate: Yemen Voluntary Input for 2008 Special 301 Review

VZCZCXYZ0024
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYN #0344/01 0581452
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271452Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9058
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RULSDMK/NSA US WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE

UNCLAS SANAA 000344

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO USTR FOR JENNIFER GROVES
EEB/IPE FOR JENNIFER BOGER
USDOC WASHDC FOR ITA/MAC/OIPR FOR CASSIE PETERS
NEA/ARP FOR NATASHA FRANCESCHI AND ASHLEY BAGWELL
NEA/PI FOR SONIA FRANCESKI
USDOC WASHDC FOR USPTO FOR BARBARA MCCAFFREY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR YM
SUBJECT: YEMEN VOLUNTARY INPUT FOR 2008 SPECIAL 301 REVIEW

REF: STATE 09475

SUMMARY
-------

1. In response to reftel, Post input for the U.S. Trade
Representative's 2008 Special 301 review follows.

2. Yemen continues to face many obstacles to intellectual
property rights (IPR), including a non-TRIPs-compliant IPR
law, which it is seeking to amend. Copyright protection of
optical media is provided by the Ministry of Culture, which
registers CD/DVDs and refers infringement cases to the
judiciary, but piracy is still widespread. No effective IPR
protection of computer software and the internet exists.
Pharmaceutical and agricultural products can be registered,
but IPR enforcement is extremely limited. IPR enforcement
within the ROYG is hampered by lack of equipment and training
of staff. Post recommends continued USG technical assistance
and training in the field of IPR. END SUMMARY.

BACKGROUND ON YEMEN'S IPR ENVIRONMENT
-------------------------------------

3. Yemen joined the Paris Convention for the Protection of
Industrial Property in November 2006 and acceded to the Berne
Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
in 2007. The ROYG recently applied to join the Gulf
Cooperation Council's Patent Organization. Yemen has had
observer status in the World Trade Organization (WTO) since
2002 and is in the process of applying for WTO accession.

4. Despite all of its efforts, Yemen has a record of
inadequate protection of intellectual property rights (IPR),
including patents, trademarks, designs and copyrights. Its
IPR Law Number 19 of 1994 is not TRIPS-compliant (Note:
Yemen currently has only one law which addresses all areas of
IPR, Law Number 19. End note). In order to strengthen IPR
protection and enforcement, in 2007, the ROYG Ministry of
Industry and Trade drafted new patents, trademark, design,
and consumer protection laws with assistance from the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (Note: Yemen has
been a member of WIPO since 1979. End note). The ROYG
Ministry of Culture has drafted a new copyrights law.
Pending final adjustments, the laws will be sent to
Parliament for approval. As of February 2008, Yemen's
Parliament has not yet passed the new IPR laws. The ROYG has
committed itself to passing these laws by December 31, 2008,
as part of the steps required for Yemen's accession to the
WTO.

LIMITED COPYRIGHT PROTECTION ON OPTICAL MEDIA
---------------------------------------------

5. The ROYG Ministry of Culture handles issues related to
copyrights of optical media (i.e. music CDs, video CDs,
CD-ROMS, and DVDs), computer software, books and magazines.
In a February 24 meeting with Econoff, the Ministry of
Culture's Director of Intellectual Property Rights Protection
Abdullah Mohammed Baddah stated that manufacturers of CDs and
DVDs can register their products at the Ministry of Culture,
which then issues an identification number and an official
letter to all CD/DVD manufacturers in Yemen alerting them of
the new product. Baddah said that the Ministry of Culture
has twelve inspectors in Sanaa alone who investigate cases of
CD/DVD copyright violations. If an inspector determines that
a violation has occurred, he or she then types up an official
letter, investigates the case, and refers it to the Office of
the Prosecutor and/or Ministry of Justice. If a person is
convicted of a copyright violation, penalties include a
6-month prison sentence and a 10,000 Yemeni riyal fine.
According to Baddah, there were a total of 10 cases of
copyright/trademark infringement in 2007, nine of which
involved CDs and one which involved a TV program. Three
cases resulted in convictions in 2007.

6. Nevertheless, piracy of optical media is still widespread
in Yemen. Yemen Consumer Protection Association Assistant
Secretary General Yaseen Al-Tamimy told Econoff on February

SIPDIS
10 that the ROYG cannot control optical media piracy because
any shop with a CD/DVD burner can produce counterfeit copies
of the CD/DVD at will and Yemeni consumers are not able to
tell the difference between genuine and counterfeit products.
He also noted the lack of public awareness about copyright

protection or other fields of IPR, primarly due to the high
illiteracy rate and low income of the people. Baddah
admitted that the current law is weak and that the Ministry
of Culture, with technical assistance from the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), has developed a
much stronger draft copyright Law, which the Cabinet recently
approved and will present to Parliament on March 1, 2008.

NO IPR PROTECTION ON COMPUTER SOFTWARE AND THE INTERNET
--------------------------------------------- ----------

7. With respect to computer software, Baddah mentioned that
Yemen's current IPR law does not cover these products.
Manufacturers, however, can register their products with the
Ministry of Culture, which issues a certificate. The
Ministry of Culture has only one inspector who covers
computer software issues. According to Baddah, the Ministry
of Culture received no complaints of computer software piracy
in 2007. Al-Tamimy noted that the only IPR protection for
computer software inside Yemen is built-in protections from
the computer companies (e.g. a person with a counterfeit
computer software program would not be able to download an
update of the same program from the internet). There is also
no protection against internet piracy. Although the Ministry
of Telecommunications handles internet use in Yemen,
according to al-Baddah, IPR internet protection is weak.
Al-Tamimy observed that internet piracy is not a big problem
because only 3 percent of the Yemeni population has access to
computers. He opined that the ROYG is more concerned about
expanding computer access, rather than controlling the use of
computers.

LIMITED DATA PROTECTION FOR PHARMACEUTICAL AND AGRICULTURAL
PRODUCTS
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

8. Pharmaceutical products in Yemen are covered under IPR
Law No. 19 of 1994, which organizes the import and trade of
pharmaceutical products, according to the Ministry of
Industry and Trade. Within the ROYG Ministry of Public
Health and Population is a Supreme Committee of Drugs and
Medical Appliances, which oversees data protection of
pharmaceutical products and is in charge of registering
pharmaceutical companies and drugs. The Supreme Committee
has 250 employees and has agents at every airport and seaport
in Yemen. In a February 27 meeting with Econoff, the Supreme
Committee's Director General, Abdul Moneim Al-Hakami,
explained that if a foreign drug company would like to export
its products to Yemen, the company approaches the Supreme
Committee, which first runs lab tests on the products, then
registers the company and product and issues a certificate.
The company then brings the certificate to the MOIT, which
issues a trademark. A second way that a company can register
its pharmaceutical products in Yemen is through the Gulf
Cooperation Council's Health Ministers Council Office in
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Through this second method, companies'
products would be registered in all six GCC countries, plus
Yemen. After the pharmaceutical product is registered, the
the Supreme Committee conducts random inspections of it in
the marketplace.

9. If the Supreme Committee discovers counterfeit
pharmaceutical goods in the marketplace, it has the power to
confiscate the goods and even to close down the companies.
It then refers cases to the Office of Public Prosecution.
Al-Hakami complained that the current IPR law is weak and
that there are no serious consequences for producing
counterfeit drugs. As a result, the ROYG is working on a
much stronger law specifically focusing on drugs in Yemen,
which it expects to present to Parliament in 2008. Based
upon this new law, the Supreme Commitee will devise a
national strategy on pharmaceutical products.

10. The process of data protection/registration for
agricultural products follows the same procedure as
pharmaceutical products, but takes place within the Ministry
of Agriculture, which issues a certificate. The owner of the
agricultural product then takes the certificate to the MOIT,
which issues the trademark.

WEAK IPR ENFORCEMENT IN YEMEN
-----------------------------

11. The weak role of the ROYG in the field of IPR

enforcement efforts is also demonstrated by the Ministry of
Industry and Trade (MOIT) and the Customs Authority (CA).
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has a staff of 32 people
who focus on three areas of IPR: trademarks, patents and
industrial designs. The newly-appointed General Director of
the Intellectual Property Department at the Ministry of
Industry and Trade, Abdul-Fattah Hayal Farhan, in a February
20 meeting with Econoff, described the Ministry's role as
that of an "observer" which records complaints about
counterfeit goods but has no enforcement powers. (Note: The
MOIT recorded 56 cases of counterfeit goods in 2005, 45 cases
in 2006 and 38 cases in 2007. End note.) Even though the
MOIT can refer these cases to the judiciary, Farhan
complained that many judges are not knowledgable in the area
of IPR. He also cited four weaknesses within the MOIT in the
field of IPR: the lack of adequate statistics, equipment,
trained staff and linkages between the central MOIT office
and MOIT governorate branch offices. He added that public
awareness of IPR issues will need to be raised.

12. The Customs Authority (CA)'s role in IPR enforcement
takes place at the 25 Customs entry points located along
Yemen's long and porous border. In a February 18 meeting
with Econoff, CA Legal Affairs Director Abdullah Rajeh stated
that like the MOIT, the CA does not have the right to arrest
counterfeiters. The CA does have the right to confiscate and
seize items and can refer counterfeit goods cases to the
judiciary. He explained that most counterfeit goods in Yemen
come from smuggling, especially in electronics, basic
commodities and cigarettes. Rajeh urged more USG assistance
in terms of providing the CA with equipment to help detect
counterfeit products and also training for CA staff, lawyers
and the judiciary.

COMMENT
-------

13. Yemen faces many challenges in the field of IPR but has
strong incentives for improving its IPR environment,
including accession to the World Trade Organization and
attracting greater foreign direct investment. For example, a
March 2007 workshop on IPR sponsored by the Yemen Consumer
Protection Association attracted over 200 participants from
the public and private sector, including the Prime Minister.
Post recommends that Yemen, particularly its judiciary,
receive continued USG technical assistance and training in
the field of IPR through such organizations as the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Organization (USPTO). English language
training would also be beneficial. Post agrees with the
decision not to place Yemen on the 2007 Special 301 Watch
List or Priority Watch List and recommends doing the same in
2008. End Comment.

SECHE

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