March 3, 2010

U.S. Chamber Urges Repeal of Section 211 of the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act

Repeal Would Restore U.S. Compliance with IP Treaties

Washington, D.C. – Mark Esper, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), called for a full repeal of Section 211 of the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act today. Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Dr. Esper emphasized the importance of intellectual property (IP) rights to job creation and to the nation’s overall global competitiveness and recommended this repeal to comply with current U.S. trade obligations and to maintain America’s status as a defender of IP rights and the rule of law.

Excerpts from Dr. Esper’s testimony as submitted to the House Judiciary Committee are below. Full testimony can be found here.    

“The United States is party to many multilateral and bilateral trade agreements that require our laws to meet certain standards with respect to the treatment of IP rights, including trademark rights, regardless of whether they are owned by United States citizens or foreign nationals. The Global IP Center works every day to protect these rights, whether it is bolstering our laws and enforcement efforts to stop counterfeiters who use stolen trademarks to sell their fakes, or working with our trading partners to defend rights holders in international fora such as the World Intellectual Property Organization. Unfortunately, Section 211 of the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act has put the United States in violation of its international treaty obligations and needlessly endangers the intellectual property rights of American companies. Further, it undermines the United States’ credibility when we argue in defense of IP laws in U.N. organizations and when dealing with other governments.

Esper said that the Chamber in no way condones the Cuban government’s seizure of  property in the 1960s, nor is it taking a position in the particular trademark dispute at hand, but made clear that “only complete repeal of Section 211 will provide full compliance with all current United States trade obligations, ensure no retaliation or penalties against the United States or American companies, and safeguard our nation’s reputation as a strong defender of the global system of IP rights, laws, and norms.” Esper added that full repeal of Section 211 will allow the trademark dispute at the center of this issue to be resolved by U.S. courts, where it belongs.

The Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center is working around the world to champion intellectual property (IP) as vital to creating jobs, saving lives, advancing global economic growth, and generating breakthrough solutions to global challenges.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

For more information, please contact Trinh Nguyen at 202-463-5379.

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