Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attaché Program
The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Overseas Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attaché program was formally instituted in 2006 to to promote high standards of IP protection and enforcement internationally for the benefit of U.S. stakeholders.
Since its creation, the IPR Attaché Program has placed individuals in the following seven countries: Bangkok, Thailand; Beijing, China; Guangzhou, China; Moscow, Russia; New Delhi, India; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Cairo, Egypt. An Attaché is currently located at all posts except Egypt. At present, we are in negotiations to post an Attaché in the Middle East.
Six Attachés cover the following geographical regions:
Geographic Regions Covered
Base: Rio de Janeiro
Coverage: South America
Coverage: Most of southeastern China, including Fujian, Guangdong, and Guangxi Provinces, and Hainan Island
Coverage: All of China excluding the parts of southeastern China listed above.
Coverage: East China and Shanghai consular area Provinces ( Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui).
Coverage: Middle East and North Africa
Coverage: South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives).
Base: Mexico City
Coverage: Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean
Coverage: Russia, CIS
Coverage: Southeast Asia and ASEAN (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam).
Through a partnership between the USPTO and the Department of Commerce (DOC), the USPTO Intellectual Property Rights Commercial Officer is hired through the International Trade Administration/U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (ITA/US&FCS) process, and has responsibility for implementing and reporting on all traditional USPTO program areas. In addition to performing his/her primary duties for the USPTO, the Intellectual Property Rights Commercial Officer will also perform ad hoc duties for ITA/US&FCS as necessary.
In addition, we have two USPTO employees on detail to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland supporting United States Government (USG) objectives related to intellectual property matters that arise in the World Trade Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization and other international organizations, as appropriate.
Primary Goals and Objectives of the IPR Attaché Program
- To promote U.S. government IPR policy internationally.
- To help secure strong IPR provisions in international agreements and host country laws.
- To encourage strong IPR protection and enforcement by U.S. trading partners for the benefit of U.S. rights holders.
Role and Primary Responsibilities of the IPR Attaché Program
- Advocating U.S. Government IPR policy, interests and initiatives;
- Assisting U.S. businesses on IPR protection and enforcement;
- Improving IPR protection and enforcement by conducting training activities with host governments;
- Advising officials at all levels of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce, Office of the United States Trade Representative, Department of Justice, etc., on the host government’s IP system;
- Advising representatives of the host government or region on U.S. intellectual property law and policy;
- Helping to secure strong IPR provisions in international agreements and host country laws, and working to monitor the implementation of these provisions; and
- Performing ad hoc Commercial Service (CS) duties as necessary, such as representing the CS at host government functions and advising U.S. companies on the local IPR environment.
Interested in becoming an IPR Attaché? Check out the USAJOBS
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Q: How do I apply?
A: Vacancies are announced through the USAJOBS webpage. Interested applicants should follow the application procedures outlined in the vacancy announcement. Please note that the vacancies will be advertised as "Commercial Officer (Intellectual Property Rights)".
Q: How long does the IPR Attaché serve?
A: IPR Attachés will serve an initial 2-year limited appointment, which may be extended for up to 3 additional years. US&FCS, in consultation with the USPTO, will determine whether or not to grant the extension. In some cases, at the end of the tour, Attaché may be allowed to return to their home organization.
Q: Is intellectual property knowledge and experience required?
A: Yes. While expertise in all areas of intellectual property protection and enforcement is not required, general knowledge of IP is necessary. Attachés are placed in foreign countries for the purpose of improving intellectual property protection and enforcement for the benefit of U.S. foreign, economic, and political interests. The Attachés serve as liaisons with foreign counterparts and work to engage these counterparts in an ongoing dialogue about IP issues. Additionally, the Attachés conduct and help organize IP-related training and technical assistance for host country officials.
Q: Is fluency of a foreign language required to apply?
A: No, there is no foreign language fluency requirement. However, for certain posts, foreign language fluency may be preferred, meaning we may elect to favor foreign language skills under some circumstances.
Q: Does USPTO offer language training?
A: While language training is not mandatory for Attachés, USPTO offers, when resources permit, on-site language training to USPTO employees who are selected for overseas assignments. Attachés are also encouraged to participate in language training classes offered at post.
Q: After a candidate is selected, what training is required?
A: All incoming IPR Attachés must participate in a training program at the USPTO. The length and nature of the training program will depend on the outgoing Attachés depth and breadth of knowledge. The IPR Attaché will spend the bulk of the assignment at the USPTO attending classes at the USPTO Global IP Academy (GIPA) to enhance his/her knowledge of IP, meeting colleagues from other U.S. Government agencies working on host country IP-related matters, meeting representatives from trade associations with knowledge of the host country’s IPR environment, and in general, becoming acquainted with the functioning of the USPTO. Additionally, Security Awareness Training is mandatory prior to deployment for initial overseas assignments; a number of basic new officer classes are required that can be completed after arrival on post; and several classes are recommended for families before and during deployment overseas.
Q: Can spouses and children go to post?
A: Yes, eligible family members may travel with the Attaché.
Q: What non-USPTO training is mandatory for selected candidates?
A: All CS Commercial Officers including the IPR Attachés to be deployed must receive training at the State Department Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia. The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Transition Center offers Foreign Service life skills courses to U.S. Government employees and their spouses preparing for, or returning from, an overseas assignment.
Q: Are non-citizens eligible for employment?
A: Only U.S. citizens may apply for an appointment to the Overseas Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attaché program, (i.e., you must be a U.S. citizen by the day you submit your application).
Q: What is the background investigation in the security clearance process?
A: Applicants who are selected will be asked to submit forms for the Top Secret security clearance required for appointment to the Overseas Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attaché program. The clearance process investigates the candidate's background and, prior to issuing a security clearance, considers such factors as: registration for the Selective Service; failure to repay a U.S. Government-guaranteed student loan; past problems with credit or bankruptcy; failure to meet tax obligations; unsatisfactory employment records; violations of the law; misrepresentation in the Registration Process; drug or alcohol abuse; a criminal record; extensive travel; education; residence and/or employment overseas; dual citizenship; foreign contacts; immediate family or relatives who are not citizens of the United States and/or a foreign born spouse or foreign born declared same-sex domestic partner; or a less- than-honorable discharge from the armed forces. Investigations include interviews with current and previous contacts, supervisors, and coworkers.