“I say to folks, choose your partners carefully. Take for example the upcoming election that we have at WIPO. If we are to be taken seriously that intellectual property is important to all of us, we must choose a next Director General who comes from a country that respects intellectual property rights” – Andrei Iancu
Last night, February 4, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) held a reception to launch its eighth annual International IP Index, Art of the Possible. The event featured remarks from U.S. Patent and Trademarks Director Andrei Iancu, who touted the results as a win overall for the United States in particular, as well as for the global economy, but also explained to attendees that the upcoming WIPO elections for Director General will be key in signaling to the global community that respect for IP protections and enforcement is paramount to economic development. While Iancu stopped short of endorsing any of the ten candidates the WIPO General Assembly is considering, he said the next Director General must come from a country and respects intellectual property rights. Read his remarks in full below.
Thank you, all, it’s so good to be here with you; first and foremost, congratulations to the Chamber and GIPC for the release of the 8th edition of the annual Global IP Index. Thank you for the report. Clearly, undoubtedly, you know that they did a good job and they got the right results.
How do we know that? Well, let me count the ways. The United States is first overall by an increased margin—first in copyrights, first in trademarks, second in patents, first in enforcement, and so on. So, we are really very proud of the work that we have done across the United States, across the administration and our government, and working with all of you; none of this would have been possible without a close collaboration with industry. Everybody agrees that the key to a successful economy, the key to job creation, the key to great economic growth and societal development is innovation and entrepreneurship. Our 200-plus years of history here in the United States proves that with so many examples.
But not quite everybody agrees that the necessary ingredient to innovation and entrepreneurship is intellectual property and strong IP rights. And what GIPC does and what this report does is to reinforce [the] notion [that it is]. Sure, innovation and entrepreneurship are critically important, but everybody must recognize that the necessary ingredient for that is strong intellectual property rights. We know that in the USPTO, and we have tried to change the dialogue when it comes to IP from the USPTO side, but it’s not just the USPTO. The administration is unified in promoting strong intellectual property rights—folks at the Department of Justice, folks at the USTR, and folks in the White House, including first and foremost President Trump, who last night in [his] State of the Union closing remarks mentioned Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers, some of our greatest inventors throughout history [who are] emblematic of what this country can do.
The trade agreements that we have seen in the past few years and the recent signing here in the United States for the ratification of the USMCA, and the recent Phase 1 of the China deal, and so much more [are further evidence of the importance of IP to the administration]. When you take the USMCA, for example, it has the most comprehensive IP enforcement provisions of any trade agreement and it’s the first such agreement to require ex-officio authority for law enforcement officials to stop suspected counterfeit and pirated goods at every phase of entry, exiting, and transiting through any party’s territory…. The IP chapter of the agreement also has the most robust protection for trade secrets of any U.S. trade agreement. And it includes protections against misappropriation of trade secrets, including by state owned enterprises,…judicial procedures to prevent disclosure during a litigation process, and penalties for government officials for unauthorized disclosure. [There are also] lots of provisions in the copyright space, and significant improvements for trademarks and geographical indications. When it comes to IP, it is really a fabulous agreement overall.
I was in Mexico just last week with Secretary Ross where we signed [a Memorandum of Understanding] with Mexico between the USPTO and IMPI in Mexico to increase the work sharing between the two countries. With the idea that once the USPTO issues a U.S. patent, an applicant can request the corresponding patent from Mexico and Mexico will dramatically increase the speed of processing and hopefully issue a corresponding patent in just a matter of months. The USMCA calls for this kind of increased work sharing between the countries and that’s an example of actual implementation of the USMCA even before full ratification.
But it is not just us who are working really hard on IP. It is very good to see the rest of the world is doing the same. I was mentioning to Patrick [Kilbride, Senior Vice President
of GIPC] that one of the nice things to see in the report that struck me is that almost all the countries—not all of them but almost all of them—have moved up in points. And that is a very good thing to see because increased IP protection in the various jurisdictions around the world means a better business environment for American companies doing business overseas. It’s a win/win for everybody involved. So, we in the United States stand ready to work with all of these other countries, all these folks who show an interest in strengthening their IP systems. And we want to help and assist in any way possible to make sure that they achieve the goals that we all think are beneficial for everybody.
But I say to folks, choose your partners carefully. Take for example the upcoming election that we have at WIPO. If we are to be taken seriously that intellectual property is important to all of us, we must choose a next Director General of WIPO who comes from a country that respects intellectual property rights and [ensure that] the candidates themselves have a proven record of strong intellectual property protection. [Applause] History and data show unquestionably that economies grow when intellectual property is respected and meaningfully enforced. The GIPC report does so much good to highlight the issues and to focus the mind. It does indeed spur offices and countries and governments and industry to action. So, thank you, GIPC for all the work that you have done, and thank you all of you in industry for being amazing partners in this great work that we are all engaged in together.
Thank you so much.