(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
The Office of the United States Trade Representative on Friday removed Israel from an intellectual property watch list it has been on since 2005.
For almost a decade, Israel was included on the Special 301 Report Watch List as a result of patent laws, mostly having to do with pharmaceuticals.
Teva, the largest company listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, is the world’s biggest manufacturer of generic drugs.
Inclusion on the list subjects countries to increased scrutiny on relevant trade issues, and even possible sanctions.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called the decision an “important vote of confidence by the US,” saying the move would help Israel advance its industry and innovation, not just in the US but around the world.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni vowed to continue strengthening Israeli intellectual property rights.
“This is a significant achievement, which reflects great efforts for advancing the international status and position of Israel as a leading country in intellectual property,” she said.
In 2008, the two countries began negotiations over how to move forward, and in 2010 they signed a memorandum of understanding outlining steps Israel could take to satisfy US concerns.
Progress led the Office of the US Trade Representative to move Israel from its priority watch list to its regular watch list in 2012. Friday’s announcement indicated an assessment on the US’s part that Israel had fulfilled its obligations, passing several laws in accordance with the understanding.
In particular, it advanced the last of three pieces of legislation in the Knesset to protect “pharmaceutical test data and patent term extension, and to publish patent applications promptly after the expiration of a period of 18 months from the time an application is filed.”