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December 15, 2009

Media Contacts:
Peter Pappas, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 571-272-8400, peter.pappas1@uspto.gov
Tim Truman, International Trade Administration, 202-482-3809, tim.truman@trade.gov

Press Release

Secretary Locke Comments European Union and Member State Ratification of WIPO Internet Intellectual Property Treaties

WASHINGTON – Commerce Secretary Gary Locke commends the European Union and 16 of its members for today ratifying the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (collectively, the “WIPO Internet Treaties”). With yesterday’s event, the European Union and all twenty-seven European Union member states have ratified the WIPO Internet Treaties. These treaties provide U.S. rightsholders doing business in the European Union increased protection, and thereby enable U.S. businesses to grow, secure investment and create jobs.

“By granting protection to copyrighted works in the digital age, these treaties help further drive innovation and protect U.S. rights-holders as they do business in the European Union,” Locke said. “We hope this development will encourage other countries to ratify the treaties.”

The WIPO Internet Treaties update the standards of international protection of copyright and related rights in the digital age by establishing that copyright owners have the exclusive right to the distribution of their works over the Internet and by requiring, among other things, adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of technological protection measures and against the removal or altering of electronic information accompanying a work.

“This action should encourage those countries still considering accession that the WIPO Internet Treaties embody the new international standard for digital copyright protection and enforcement,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos said.

Yesterday’s announcement was a significant and long-awaited milestone by the European Union, which was among the early supporters of the WIPO Internet Treaties at the time of their adoption in 1996. The United States signed the WIPO Internet Treaties in April 1997 and ratified the treaties in September 1999. The contracting parties to the treaties come from all regions of the world, and include both developing and developed countries.

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