International Trade:

Strengthening Worldwide Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

NSIAD-87-65: Published: Apr 15, 1987. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 1987.

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GAO reviewed federal efforts to reduce foreign piracy of intellectual property rights by encouraging foreign governments to strengthen their protection of intellectual property rights.

GAO found that piracy of intellectual property rights: (1) limits return on firms' investments in patented innovations, trademarked products, and copyrighted works; (2) deprives legitimate businesses of sales; and (3) can threaten public health or safety. GAO also found that: (1) while the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has achieved some significant accomplishments in intellectual property protection, opposition from developing countries has limited it as a global forum for strengthening international intellectual property rights; (2) while the United States participates in WIPO, it has focused its multilateral efforts on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and proposed an international anticounterfeiting code and an agreement against unfair trade practices that arise from rights violations; (3) the United States has made some progress through bilateral negotiations; (4) the primary means for encouraging foreign governments to increase protection is to demonstrate their economic self-interest in doing so; and (5) when diplomatic means prove ineffective, the United States can threaten various economic sanctions.

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