Senators want tough IP standards in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal

The Hill
By Vicki Needham

A bipartisan group of 28 senators on Tuesday urged President Obama to maintain high standards for intellectual property rights in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

In a letter spearheaded by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and panel member Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the lawmakers said the United States should “be the world’s leading voice for the highest level of IP protections” and require the toughest standards possible.

“We urge you to continue to seek the highest IP standards as your administration finalizes its proposals in this area and during the course of the TPP negotiations,” the wrote in the letter sent Tuesday.

“A robust knowledge economy provides the United States with one of our largest sources of competitive advantage, and intellectual property is the engine that drives it,” they wrote.

“Put bluntly, intellectual property equals jobs.”

The letter, signed by nine Democrats, calls on the administration to reject efforts to weaken intellectual property protections and include standards similar to those in the U.S.-South Korean trade deal, ensuring the standards apply to all participants in the TPP deal.

“A TPP agreement with strong protections for intellectual property promises to be an important means of ensuring that U.S. companies can continue to innovate and grow in this global economy, thereby allowing us to retain high-quality skilled jobs here in the United States,” they wrote.

The senators expressed support for the trade agreement “that includes high standards in all sectors, including the innovative biopharmaceutical, creative copyright, and other intellectual property-intensive sectors,” the letter said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) expressed support for the push to ensure tough standards.

“With the United States and eight other countries engaged in the negotiations, the TPP is envisioned as a cutting-edge trade accord that will serve as a doorway through which American exporters can better access the booming markets of Asia,” said Mark Elliot, GIPC’s executive vice president.

A November meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders is scheduled in Hawaii.

Besides Hatch and Cantwell, Republicans John Thune (S.D.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Cornyn (Texas), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.). Democrats were Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Lieberman (Conn.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.).

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