PTO Facilitates International TRIPS Compliance

Press Release

Brigid Quinn
Kim Byars

The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is using its annual Visiting Scholars Program to help patent, trademark and copyright officials from over 13 foreign countries meet their January 1, 2000 obligations under the agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). The TRIPS Agreement sets intellectual property protection and enforcement standards for the more than 100 countries that are members of the World Trade Organization.

The Visiting Scholars Program, which began in 1985, is the most thorough introduction to the U.S. intellectual property system offered annually. While the program includes substantial review of copyright and related topics, the emphasis is on patents and trademarks.

From October 18-25, 1999, intellectual property officials from 20 countries including 13 with pending TRIPS obligations will receive two weeks of classroom and hands-on study of the United States' intellectual property system. This year's session will feature presentations by U.S. government representatives specializing in patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Visiting officials will tour the patent and trademark examination operations, visit the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the U.S. Copyright Office. They will also participate in substantive discussions regarding international intellectual property treaties.

"Fostering a worldwide appreciation for patents, trademarks and copyright is a must if the U.S. economy is to continue to thrive in a global marketplace, said Q. Todd Dickinson, acting commissioner of patents and trademarks. "The TRIPS agreement sets the framework for strong global protection of intellectual property. It is in the best interests of the United States to promote compliance with TRIPS at every opportunity."

The full list of participating countries is attached.

The PTO is the Commerce Department's user fee-funded bureau that administers laws relevant to granting patents and registering trademarks; advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on patent, trademark and copyright protection; and advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property. Nearly 6 million patents for inventions have been issued since the first patent in 1790. Last year PTO issued 155,000 patents and registered 106,000 trademarks.