The U.S. Trade Representative has downgraded Taiwan's Special 301 status citing improvements in the country's intellectual property rights legislation and enforcement. The USTR has moved Taiwan from P

TAIPEI -- The U.S. Trade Representative has downgraded Taiwan's Special 301 status citing improvements in the country's intellectual property rights legislation and enforcement. The USTR has moved Taiwan from Priority Watch List to Watch List after completing an out-of-cycle review in Q4 last year.

"Although Taiwan has not yet adopted an effective data protection regime, Taiwan has made significant progress in the remaining areas, particularly in strengthening enforcement and copyright protection," the USTR said in a statement.

Pressure from the U.S. over the past three years has prompted Taiwan to step up legislative and enforcement measures against optical media piracy, including the establishment of a special IP rights police task force.

"It's good to see Taiwan's status downgraded, but there's still a lot of room for improvement," says Robin Lee, secretary general of IFPI Taiwan. "In physical piracy, Taiwan has done a good job, but Internet piracy remains a growing threat," Lee adds.

Preliminary figures from the IFPI point to a decrease in physical piracy from 42% in 2003 to slightly above 30% in 2004.

Although the USTR appears satisfied with Taiwan's fight against optical-media piracy, it continues to remain concerned about pharmaceutical and agricultural IP issues.