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U.S.-EU Intellectual Property Rights Working Group

On September 23-24, 2009, a session of the U.S.-EU Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Working Group was held in Washington, D.C.  The meeting was co-chaired for the United States by the U.S. Trade Representative's Office and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and for the European Union by the European Commission's Directorate General (DG) for Trade.

The session commenced on September 23, with a briefing for transatlantic stakeholders hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center.  At the briefing, officials from both sides of the Atlantic reported about ongoing cooperative efforts to strengthen IPR protection globally through support for U.S. and European small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), joint Customs activities to address concerns related to the growing problem of trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, and capacity-building efforts in third countries.

Officials reviewed the current status of a number of ongoing multilateral discussions currently underway within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, United Nations, and other international bodies.  Both U.S. and European Union (EU) officials also reaffirmed a commitment to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations.  They also pledged to fairly represent the interests of the various constituency groups who are following the negotiations with interest and to keep them informed as the negotiations progress.

Representatives of DG Enterprise and the Department of Commerce spoke on support for SMEs, particularly the web-based IPR resources that both have developed.  DG Enterprise presented a catalogue of on-line IPR tools for SMEs, which can be found under "Online Tools" at its SME Portal and can be accessed at ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sme/.  The Department of Commerce noted that an on-line SME IPR training module is now available on the U.S. government IPR portal StopFakes.gov and that the two portals will soon include a link to each other.

U.S. and EU Customs officials rolled out a new brochure titled "Protecting Intellectual Property at Our Borders," which provides information to rights holders on how to work with Customs officials to obtain enforcement of intellectual property rights in both markets.  Customs officials also delivered joint Web-Toolkit Product Guidelines, which provide guidance to right holders who are developing toolkits to assist Customs officials in both markets with authenticating suspect shipments.  They further noted the success of past joint operations and information exchanges and indicated that discussions are on-going for future joint operations.

On September 24, discussions continued when U.S. and EU officials met at the Department of Commerce to discuss common goals in key third country markets.  Both parties agreed to continue to work together to strengthen intellectual property protection through both bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.  DG Enterprise and the U.S. Department of Commerce agreed to continue to cooperate in the development of resources that will benefit SMEs.  The next meeting of the IPR Working Group is tentatively scheduled to take place in Europe during the first quarter of 2010.  The Working Group will report on its activities to the Transatlantic Economic Council and the U.S.-EU Summit.

The United States and the European Union established the IPR Working Group in 2005.  The Working Group is composed of IPR officials representing lead agencies and services from both the United States and Europe.  It was constituted to identify the areas and modalities for joint action.  The Working Group works in close consultation with industry and other interested parties.