Canada among the top copyright pirates: USTR

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China and Russia once again lead the list of countries with the worst record on preventing piracy and counterfeiting of U.S. goods, the U.S. Trade Representatives office said on Thursday.

In addition, USTR said it was putting Canada on the “priority watch list” for first time because of increasing concern about the need to Canada to reform its copyright laws and to strengthen border enforcement.

“In this time of economic uncertainty, we need to redouble our efforts to work with all of our trading partners -- even our closest allies and neighbors such as Canada -- to enhance protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.

USTR put China was on the priority watch list for the fifth consecutive year and Russia for at least the seventh consecutive year.

The designation highlights the country for increased U.S. pressure to stop intellectual property rights theft.

“I’m particularly troubled by reports that Chinese officials are urging more lenient enforcement of IPR laws, motivated by the financial crisis and the need to maintain jobs,” Kirk said.

“China needs to strengthen its approach to IPR protection and enforcement, not weaken it,” Kirk said.

USTR said it was elevating Algeria and Indonesia to the priority watch list because of growing concerning about piracy and counterfeiting in those countries.

It said it was removing South Korea from a lower level “watch list” because of progress that government has made.

Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by David Storey