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U.S. Lifts Ukraine's IP Sanctions

The United States is lifting trade sanctions against the Ukraine in recognition of the country's latest efforts to protect intellectual property (IP) rights.

In July, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a set of amendments to Ukraine's Laser-Readable Disk Law designed to strengthen the country's licensing regime and enforcement efforts.

"This recent legislative action by Ukraine is a key step in the right direction," U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Rob Portman said in a statement. "We expect that Ukraine will use the tools created by these amendments to crack down on illegal pirating of protected works."

After the United States declared the Ukraine the largest producer and exporter of pirated optical media in Europe, the Ukraine signed an agreement in 2000 with the U.S. to curtail its optical media piracy.

In addition to serving as an international hub for illegal global street sales, the pirated software, music and video material often makes its way to the Internet for peer-to-peer illegal distribution.

The two principal elements of the 2000 plan involved the Ukraine immediately using its law enforcement authority to crack down on piracy and by November of 2000 to establish an optical media-licensing regime.

When the Ukraine failed to meet either obligation, the U.S. placed it on its Priority Watch List for IP theft, a list that also includes China and Russia. In addition it imposed 100 percent tariff sanctions on $75 million worth of Ukrainian metals, footwear and other exports to the United States.

The USTR calculated the $75 million figure as the amount of annual damages that Ukrainian piracy of optical media, which includes unauthorized licensing and production, cost Americans.

The U.S. also declared the Ukraine a Priority Foreign Country, which cost the Ukraine its eligibility for certain preference trade benefits.

In addition to the lifting of the sanctions on Wednesday, Portman said the United States would initiate an investigation to reconsider the Priority Foreign Country status.