PTO Takes Part in Depositing WIPO Ratifications

Press Release

Brigid Quinn
Maria V. Hernandez

As part of the first deposit of an instrument of ratification by a major industrialized nation, Q. Todd Dickinson, acting assistant secretary of commerce and acting commissioner of patents and trademarks, will accompany the U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley to deposit with the director general of WIPO the United States’ instrument of ratification for two new WIPO treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). This will take place September 14, 1999 at WIPO Headquarters in Geneva, where the secretary and the commissioner will be speaking at the WIPO Conference on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property.

The WCT and the WPPT include provisions that ensure that other nations will have to provide copyright protection for electronic commerce at a level equivalent to such protection provided under U.S. law. Specifically the treaties provide that the copyright owner must have the right to authorize availability of their works to the public via electronic commerce.

The WCT additionally includes provisions on the copyright protection of computer programs and databases and provisions on the rights of distribution, rental and communication to the public. The treaty also contains a provision that increases the minimum term of protection for photographic works from 25 years to 50 years.

The WPPT includes provisions on the minimum rights granted to performers and producers of sound recordings, including the rights of reproduction, distribution, and rental. The treaty also creates a new international standard for the minimum term of protection of these rights of 50 years, rather than 20 years as under the Rome Convention.

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 have been issued since the first patent in 1790. Last year PTO issued 155,000 patents and registered 106,000 trademarks.

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