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Weekly Trade Focus: Intellectual Property Rights

09/28/2009 - 9:17am

Every week, the USTR website explores a new trade topic, with background information and current trade data. This week Ambassador Kirk will be speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) Sixth Annual Summit. This week's trade topic focuses on Intellectual Property Rights and anti-counterfeiting.

Innovation and creativity are pillars of global economic development. Key to any nation's economic success is the ability to trade intellectual property - including the goods and services that flow from new ideas - in a rules-based system around the world.  Stretching back to the days of Benjamin Franklin, America has a proud history as the world leader in innovation.   Today Intellectual property intensive industries employ more than 18 million Americans and account for more than half of American exports.

An important part of the mission of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is to ensure that U.S. creators and innovators benefit from adequate and effective protection and enforcement of their intellectual property rights (IPR) in markets around the world.  By creating and ensuring an international standard on Intellectual Property Rights Laws, the aim of is to create a freer, fairer international market for global trade. A market with adequate laws and effective enforcement opens up opportunities for Americans to sell the products of their innovation and creativity abroad, creating new opportunities for employment.  Additionally, innovation brings about technological advances that benefit the quality of life of everyone.

IPR infringement causes significant financial losses for right holders and legitimate businesses around the world, harming both U.S. and foreign innovators and creators.  In its most pernicious forms, it can also endanger the public.  Counterfeiting of some products, such as car parts and medicines, poses a real risk to health and safety.  Trade in counterfeit and pirated products often fuels organized criminal networks and hinder sustainable economic development in many countries.

USTR works to ensure, through trade policy leadership and negotiating expertise, to ensure that the international environment is conducive to support and encourage American creativity.  USTR has worked to promote effective protection and enforcement of IPR through a variety of mechanisms, including bilateral and multilateral treaties.  Currently, the USTR is working together with key partners to forge an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The purpose of ACTA is to ensure adequate international standards for the protection of intellectual property.  The USTR utilizes other mechanisms in order to protect American innovation, notably enforcing U.S. Free Trade Agreements, which include strong IP protection and enforcement provisions; USTR's annual report card on international IPR protection; and the World Trade Organization (WTO) TRIPS Council and its dispute settlement mechanism.

Visit the intellectual property page to find out more about USTR's efforts to protect American innovation and combat counterfeiting and piracy.