Skip to Content

Remarks by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro on World Intellectual Property Day 2010

Opening Statement of Ambassador Miriam E. Sapiro
Deputy United States Trade Representative

World Intellectual Propery Day, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Washington, D.C.
April 26, 2010

*As Prepared for Delivery*

Washington, D.C. - "Thank you, Mark, for your kind introduction and warm words of welcome. And thank you, Dr. Pham, for your hard work on this study. It is always a pleasure to speak with members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and I am especially honored to address the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) on World Intellectual Property Day. 

"As you know, World IP Day was established in 2000 by the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in order to raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and industrial designs impact daily life, and to highlight the importance of protecting intellectual property rights. Each year on April 26 – the date in 1970 when the Convention establishing WIPO entered into force – Member States celebrate World IP Day with activities and events such as this gathering. Today marks the 10th Anniversary of this initiative. 

"This is the perfect opportunity to recognize the significant role of intellectual property in promoting creativity and innovation, and to encourage respect for these rights. As President Obama recently said, “Our single greatest asset is the innovation and the ingenuity and creativity of the American people. It is essential to our prosperity and it will only become more so in this century.” 

"The United States has long been acknowledged as a global leader in fostering innovation and improvements in technology. However, this competitive advantage is eroded – along with the jobs it creates – in an environment where piracy, counterfeiting and other kinds of intellectual property theft continue unchecked. Ensuring our trading partners understand, protect and enforce intellectual property rights is thus critically important. 

"This issue takes on larger significance when we think of the consequences to our economy, to the jobs of ordinary Americans, and to our technological and creative leadership if U.S. inventors, authors and artists feel that the risks of investing in innovation and creativity outweigh the benefits. 

"Our entire team at USTR is therefore committed to working with America’s trading partners to secure adequate and effective intellectual property safeguards wherever American goods and services are sold. We are also working closely with other federal agencies involved in the fight against intellectual property infringement, most notably the White House Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. 

"These actions will strengthen and ensure consistency of our efforts to obtain protections for intellectual property rights that are necessary to sustain America’s competitive advantage. As Ambassador Kirk stated last fall during the GIPC’s Annual Summit, “intellectual property protection and enforcement not only ensure that the rewards of creativity and invention go to the inventor – they also guarantee America’s edge in the global market.” 

"With approximately 95% of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, helping American businesses compete on an even footing around the world is crucial for our economic recovery and sustained growth. Greater market access for U.S. goods and services boosts our exports and helps create more, and higher-paying, jobs at home. 

"With this in mind, the Administration has laid out a robust trade agenda to maximize opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers, and their families. Last month, President Obama signed an executive order launching the National Export Initiative (NEI), an ambitious effort to assist American firms that sell their goods and services abroad. This initiative will help achieve the goal the President laid out in his State of the Union address – doubling American exports over the next five years, which will support two million additional jobs. 

"A central part of our trade agenda is the protection of U.S. intellectual property. Informed by the views of a broad range of stakeholders, USTR is vigorously pursuing this goal through several trade policy tools: 

"First, we are working cooperatively with foreign governments, our colleagues in other agencies and the private sector to identify situations of inadequate protection of U.S. intellectual property and potential remedies, such as training or other capacity building. 

"Second, we communicate concerns when we believe that intellectual property rights are not receiving appropriate protection. One way we do this is through the annual Special 301 Report that will be coming out at the end of this week. Pursuant to the “Special 301” provisions of the Trade Act, each year USTR identifies and reports to Congress on countries that fail to provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights or deny fair market access to American businesses that rely on intellectual property protection. This is not just a once-a-year report card, but rather the foundation for a year-round process used to secure meaningful reforms. 

"Third, we negotiate agreements that commit other countries to protect U.S. intellectual property rights, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Notably, we have been working hard to conclude an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that will support America’s competitive advantage in cutting edge industries by promoting strong enforcement of intellectual property rights. 

"Finally, when necessary, we do not hesitate to avail ourselves of our rights to initiate formal disputes, such as through the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, against countries that fail to live up to their intellectual property commitments. 

"As the President has noted, intellectual property protections will become even more essential to our economic well-being in the years to come. 

"To cite just one example, the development of technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels, energy efficient building materials, and biological methods for harnessing carbon neutral energy sources will be needed to address the challenge of global climate change, promote sustainable economic growth and reduce our dependency on foreign sources of fossil fuel. 

"In order for the United States, and indeed the world, to address such challenges, we must harness the creativity and ingenuity of American researchers, scientists, engineers and manufacturing workers, who will be at the forefront of technological developments and innovative solutions. 

"The policies and actions of our trading partners will either assist or hinder us in these efforts, depending upon the level of protection they afford to U.S. intellectual property rights. We must therefore remain vigilant that the investments American creators and inventors make are not undermined by a failure to adequately protect or enforce intellectual property rights elsewhere. 

"To the contrary, safeguarding intellectual property rights, both here at home and abroad, will ensure that not just American inventors and creators, but inventors and creators from around the world, have the incentives and legitimate expectations of reward for their efforts. We want them to continue enriching our world with new creative expressions, works of art and literature and the processes and technologies that will improve our lives. 

"I look forward to working with the Chamber and its member companies to improve intellectual property protection and enforcement with our trading partners around the world. Together we can develop strategies and solutions to ensure that U.S. innovators are afforded the most favorable environments in which to invest, invent and create. 

"Thank you."