Senate Urged To Confirm IP Czar Quickly

National Journal

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue urged the Senate on Wednesday to “hurry up and confirm” former U.S. Assistant Trade Representative Victoria Espinel who was tapped last week by President Obama to serve as the first White House intellectual property enforcement coordinator. The Senate Judiciary Committee first must receive a completed questionnaire that details her background and experience and then a hearing can be scheduled. Espinel, who is highly regarded on Capitol Hill, within industry, and among international IP policy arenas, is expected to easily win confirmation.

“I’m calling on the administration to take the next logical and necessary step,” Donohue said during a keynote at a Chamber-sponsored summit. “Work with the business community and Congress to create a bold IP strategy.” Such a plan is required under the 2008 legislation that created the IP czar position, he said. The White House must ensure that, once confirmed, Espinel will have “the resources and authority to get things done.”

Donohue also pressed the U.S. government to remain strong on protecting the IP behind green technologies as negotiators plan for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. At that meeting, countries will try to reach agreement on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but some governments want carve-outs that Donohue said could diminish incentives for U.S. manufacturers. “We must reject those claims that IP rights are a barrier to climate change innovation,” he said, arguing that compulsory licensing could endanger a million jobs by 2020.

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