“Special 301” Report 2024


  • The United States Trade Representative (USTR) placed India on the ‘priority watch list’ of countries in its 2024 Special 301.


  • The “Special 301” Report is an annual review of the global state of IP protection and enforcement.
  • The Report identifies a wide range of concerns that limit innovation and investment, including:
  • The deterioration in the effectiveness of IP protection and enforcement,
  • Reported inadequacies in trade secret protection in countries around the world,
  • Market access barriers, including non-transparent, discriminatory or otherwise trade-restrictive measures
  • Ongoing, systemic IPR enforcement issues at borders and in many trading partner markets around the world.
  • The continuing challenges of copyright piracy and the sale of counterfeit trademarked products on the Internet.

Key highlights of the report

  • 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.
  • USTR removed the Dominican Republic from the Watch List this year.

 Concerns raised by the report

  • According to the USTR office, serious problems exist in the country like Inadequate IP enforcement, including high rates of online piracy, an extensive trademark opposition backlog, and insufficient legal means to protect trade secrets.
  • India still needs to fully implement the WIPO Internet Treaties and ensure that copyright statutory licenses do not extend to interactive transmissions.
  • The potential threat of patent revocations and the procedural and discretionary invocation of patentability criteria under the Indian Patents Act impact companies across different sectors is also troubling for the USA.

India’s initiative in safeguarding IPR

  • National IPR Policy 2016 encompassing all IPRs into a single vision document setting in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review of IP laws.
  • The policy encourages innovation and creativity by providing stronger protection and incentives for inventors, artists, and creators.
  • Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM): It has been set up to coordinate the implementation of the National IPR Policy.
  • National Intellectual Property Awareness Mission (NIPAM), a flagship program to impart IP awareness and basic training in educational institutes.
  • Scheme for Facilitating Startups Intellectual Property Protection(SIPP): it is introduced to foster innovation and entrepreneurship by providing a supportive ecosystem for startups to protect and manage their IP assets.

Concluding Remarks

  • While there has been progress under the US-India Trade Policy Forum in addressing certain issues with trademark infringement investigations and pre-grant opposition proceedings, numerous long-standing concerns remain.
  • India 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 categorized as a ‘priority country’, the USA may impose ‘retaliatory’ measures.