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Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk on World Intellectual Property Day

Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk

April 26, 2010
World Intellectual Property Day Event
“Protecting Tomorrow: IP and Green Technology”

Washington, D.C.

*As Prepared for Delivery*

"Thank you Victoria for that introduction. I also want to recognize the other distinguished participants, including Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez, WIPO Deputy Director General James Pooley, and Q. Todd Dickinson of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. 

"It is a pleasure to be with you today and I welcome the opportunity to discuss the role of intellectual property protection in trade policy. Today we are commemorating the formation of the World Intellectual Property Organization and the importance of IP in promoting creativity and innovation, and that’s definitely something worth recognizing 

"In many ways, creativity and innovation are the engines of the American economy. At USTR, it is our mission to ensure that American workers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs are able to sell their goods and services in a global market place that allows Americans to compete on an equal footing. 

"Supporting American firms, especially small businesses, in reaching out to the global market where 95% of the world’s consumers reside is critical for America’s economic recovery and sustainable growth into the future. 

"Experience has shown that businesses that export are more likely to grow faster, hire more, and pay higher wages. 

"Currently, six million jobs are supported by manufacturing exports alone, and jobs supported by goods exports pay as much as 18 percent above the national average. 

"Protecting American intellectual property, whether it is trademark protection for a new brand that distinguishes the high quality of an American firm’s goods or services from its competitors, copyright protection for the works of creative American authors, performers, producers and publishers, or patent protection for the latest technological innovation, is critical for ensuring that American firms can compete in the global environment. 

"Countries that fail to respect U.S. intellectual property, either by failing to implement or enforce laws that adequately protect American intellectual property, or creating policies that disadvantage U.S. right holders, put American workers and businesses at a disadvantage. 

"Let’s be clear: IP theft in overseas markets is a job killer, and it’s an export killer. USTR will work with a broad range of stakeholders to vigorously pursue changes to the policies of trading partners that put us at such a disadvantage. We will use all the trade policy tools we have at our disposal. 

  • We will work cooperatively with our trading partners, our colleagues in other agencies and the private sector to identify solutions to adequately protect American intellectual property through training or other capacity building as appropriate.

  • We will communicate our concerns clearly through reports, such as the Special 301 Report coming out at the end of this month, and through bilateral engagement and frank discussions with our counterparts.

  • We will negotiate agreements that commit our trading partners to protecting American intellectual property, such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

  • And, when necessary, we will not hesitate to assert our rights and bring formal disputes against our trading partners through the WTO dispute settlement process.   

"As we look to the future, we recognize that U.S. innovation must be directed toward solving some of the major global challenges facing us in the 21st century. 

"The development of green technology, from wind turbines and solar panels, to energy efficient building materials, to biological methods for harnessing carbon neutral energy sources, will be critical for addressing the challenges of global climate change, promoting sustainable economic growth and reducing our dependency of foreign sources of fossil fuel. 

"In order for the world to address these challenges, we will need to harness the ingenuity and creativity of U.S. researchers, scientists, engineers and manufacturing workers. 

"U.S. businesses can and will be at the forefront of innovation in green technology, for the benefit not just of American economic growth and job creation, but for the whole world. 

"American innovation will provide solutions that the whole world will benefit from. 

"But we must remain vigilant that the investments that American inventors make are not undermined by lax enforcement of intellectual property rights or a lack of understanding about the positive role of IP rights in driving solutions to today’s green energy challenges. 

"IP rights, both here at home and abroad, will be critical for ensuring that not just American inventors, but inventors from around the world have the incentives and legitimate expectations of reward for their innovation to create the technologies and processes that will drive this critical sector and contribute to the global solutions we need. 

"In that regard, we look forward to working with our colleagues at the Department of Commerce and the Patent and Trademark Office as well as our friends in the World Intellectual Property Organization and our trading partners to ensure that IPR systems around the globe are working for American innovators and for the world."