The following is a guest post by Chris Israel, former U.S. Coordinator for International Intellectual Property Enforcement.
Today, I had the opportunity to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the promotion and protection of American intellectual property overseas. Although I was specifically asked by the Committee to examine the challenges and barriers presented to American companies when they seek patent protection in key markets, many of the points that I attempted to make in my testimony are equally relevant in the copyright realm.
From May 2005 to March 2008 I had the privilege of serving as the U.S. Coordinator for International Intellectual Property (IP) Enforcement. We were tasked by Congress and the President to coordinate and leverage the resources of the U.S. federal government to protect American IP at home and abroad. This effort included a number of steps designed to recognize the importance of international IP enforcement matters. We focused on three key elements: actively engaging our trading partners, promoting IP protection through trade policy, and supporting U.S. businesses. Some elements of this effort included:
- Leading multiple interagency IP policy delegations to countries including China, India, Russia and Mexico.
- Engaging with trade partners such as the EU and Japan to coordinate efforts to promote global IP protection and launch efforts such as the U.S.-EU IP Working Group.
- Including IP enforcement within the work plan of the G8 and elevating IP policy within key bilateral fora such as the Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade with China.
- Helping negotiate strong IP provisions in 17 trade agreements that the U.S. entered in with countries such as Australia, Jordan, Singapore, Peru, Korea, Chile, Panama, Colombia and CAFTA-DR.
During my experience in this position, it became clear to me that it was, and remains, critical for the U.S. Government to provide guidance and support for IP-intensive U.S. companies competing globally. The direct and high-level engagement of the U.S. Government is essential to confronting challenges to the protection of innovation and IP globally. Some examples of recent efforts by the U.S. Government that have helped protect American innovation include:
- The USPTO’s Overseas Intellectual Property Rights Attache program, which was launched in 2006 and has placed IP experts in seven countries to support U.S. companies which have questions about important markets.
- Implementing 20 Country IPR Toolkits to provide U.S. companies expert guidance on patent policies and enforcement procedures in key global markets.
- In 2008, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez joined with multiple federal agencies and business leaders to open an expansive Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. The IPR Center has become a critical resource for U.S. companies to engage directly with policy and enforcement agencies to address specific matters that impact their ability to protect their intellectual property.