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Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 20:18 GMT 21:18 UK
US in formal China piracy action
Chinese vendor of counterfeit bags
China is one of the world's largest producers of counterfeit goods
The US has made a formal request to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for it to crack down on copyright piracy and counterfeiting in China.

It says that China's failure to enforce copyright laws is costing software, music and book publishers billions of dollars in lost sales.

The US also argues that China makes it hard for legitimate firms to operate.

The two countries have been in talks for four months, since the US first launched its challenge.

The US now wants the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body to intervene.

'Not sensible'

"Over the past several years, China has taken tangible steps to improve [intellectual property rights] protection and enforcement," said a spokesman for US trade representative Susan Schwab.

"However, we still see important gaps that need to be addressed."

It is hoping that China will be forced to adopt a more aggressive prosecution of those who are pirating copyrighted or trademarked materials.

It is also pushing for stricter rules on what happens to pirated material which is seized.

China has yet to comment on the formal request for a WTO hearing.

However when the US first launched its challenge in June, Intellectual Property Office commissioner Tian Lipu was quoted by state media as saying that it was "not a sensible move for the US government to file such a complaint".

Fake software, DVDs, luxury goods, car parts, shoes and many other goods are still widely available throughout the country, the US says.

China is one of the world's largest producers of counterfeit products, ranging from designer clothes, to pirated films and music, to luggage.

Many of the goods find their way into Europe and are knowingly bought as fakes by shoppers at markets and from street vendors. Firms claim that the poor quality copies dent their brand and divert profits and potential clients.

The US has been threatening a WTO complaint against China since 2005.

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