The US is today (10 April) filing official complaints with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against what it describes as China's inadequate protection of intellectual property rights.

The two complaints lodged with the WTO for dispute settlement consultations concern "deficiencies in China's legal regime for protecting and enforcing copyrights and trademarks on a wide range of products", and China's barriers to trade in books, music, videos and movies.

"Piracy and counterfeiting levels in China remain unacceptably high," US trade representative Susan C Schwab said in a statement. 

"Inadequate protection of intellectual property rights in China costs US firms and workers billions of dollars each year."

She added that because bilateral dialogue "has not resolved our concerns, we are taking the next step by requesting WTO consultations".

The formal action is the US' first intellectual property filing against China since it joined the WTO in 2001.

The complaints are fuelled by the soaring US trade deficit, which set a record for the fifth consecutive year in 2006 at $765.3bn.

However, China has hit back at the US complaint, warning that the move will have a negative impact on trade relations between the two countries.