American companies rely on the leadership of the United States in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to protect and enforce U.S. intellectual property (IP) rights abroad, but the U.S. government now risks losing its seat at the table, according to IDFA and 19 other trade associations. In a letter sent last week, the groups told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson it hoped that the United States would release its financial contribution to WIPO by January 1, 2018, allowing the United States to maintain its active role in the organization.
The State Department currently is conducting a review of WIPO’s activities. Until that review is completed, the United States will not pay its membership dues. While the groups support the review, they asked for a quick conclusion that would allow the department to pay WIPO and avoid leaving U.S. companies in the dark.
“Should the U.S. government lose its vote in the organization, other governments, particularly those that are pushing WIPO to take actions that will harm American innovation, IP and exports, will be more successful in their efforts to benefit their domestic companies at the expense of the U.S. economy, workers and business,” the groups said.
WIPO Critical for Dairy
For dairy, U.S. representation in WIPO is critical to help prevent other countries from using geographical indications (GIs) to restrict the use of common cheese names.
As a result of U.S. efforts in the past, WIPO charged its committee responsible for GIs to take a broad look at the ways countries deal with GI protections around the world. The efforts also led WIPO to agree to institute a more equitable budgeting process that could otherwise have used U.S. funds on programs that exclude the United States and only benefit a small number of WIPO members.
The State Department is expected to complete its review after the WIPO General Assembly meets this October.
Read the letter here.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.