The United States will file a pair of World Trade Organization cases against China aimed at stopping widespread piracy of American movies, music, books and software, the top U.S. trade official said on Monday.
"Piracy and counterfeiting in China remain unacceptably high," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in a statement announcing the two requests for formal dispute settlement talks with China on piracy concerns.
"Inadequate protection of intellectual property rights in China costs U.S. firms and workers billions of dollars each year, and in the case of many products, it also poses a serious risk of harm to consumers in China, the United States and around the world," Schwab said.
Schwab told reporters the two U.S. cases focused on China's failure to stop widespread piracy of American copyright goods, as well as market access barriers that prevent Chinese consumers from buying legitimate versions of the entertainment and business products.
"Because bilateral dialogue has not resolved our concerns, we are taking the next step in requesting WTO consultations. We will continue to welcome dialogue with China in an effort to resolve these issues," Schwab said.
Mitch Bainwol, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of American, welcomed the U.S. government move.
"The theft of music is pervasive in China and takes place virtually without meaningful consequence. China has to date failed to institute the types of serious, systemic reforms and measures that would bring real accountability to the marketplace and secure compliance with its international obligations," Bainwol said in a statement.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said it was "high time" that the Bush administration took stronger action against China for piracy violations.
"Vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights is good for the United States, good for China's economy, and good for our bilateral economic relationship," Baucus said.
The Bush administration, under pressure from Congress to get tougher on trade with China, filed a case this year against Chinese subsidies that it said violated WTO rules.
The U.S. Commerce Department has also announced it is changing a long-standing policy to allow American companies to seek new duties on subsidized Chinese imports.