Defending Intellectual Property Rights Around the World

June 28, 2013
Counterfeit Drugs on a Glass Countertop

Innovation is one of America’s greatest assets and is increasingly a cornerstone of our diplomatic engagement abroad. The social and economic impact of innovative American researchers, entrepreneurs, companies, and workers over the course of U.S. history have been enormous. The success of many innovative American companies is linked to their ability to compete in international markets. Thus, the U.S. government has a strong interest in making sure that other countries and, indeed, the broader global innovation system provide growing opportunities for U.S. companies, workers, and researchers.

I see a strong intellectual property (IP) system as a prerequisite for innovation and it is a theme on with which we engage officials in countries around the world. Piracy of IP and of trade secrets stifles innovation and does great harm to innovative companies and people in the United States and abroad, whereas respect for and enforcement of IP rights give innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors the incentives to devote their time and energy to risky initiatives.

My colleagues and I at the Department of State are pleased to be a part of the release of the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator’s 2013 Joint Strategic Plan (JSP). The Strategic Plan focuses the efforts of the U.S. government on the enforcement and protection of IP rights, as well as the protection of the health and safety of consumers from exposure to counterfeit products.

In the coming year, the Department of State will work to further the goals outlined in the JSP. In our bilateral and multilateral engagements we will work to improve IP protections, advocating for a level playing field where foreign standards and procure­ment policies do not discriminate against American creative products and services. We will also continue to advocate for governments to adopt high quality international IP norms, including full respect for trade secrets. During fiscal year 2013, the Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs will fund $342,000 in 33 public outreach campaigns through our embassies to combat the spread of counterfeit medicines, other coun­terfeit products, and Internet piracy. We will also work with the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs to improve IP enforcement through government-to-government training in countries around the world.

Our IP is the cornerstone of American ingenuity and the Department of State will continue to advocate for stronger recognition of IP rights.

About the Author: Robert D. Hormats serves as Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.

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