Remarks by Director Iancu at the 61st Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO

The 61st Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO

Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu

September 15, 2020

Pre-recorded video

As delivered

Thank you, Chair. The United States is pleased to see you chairing the General Assembly.  We are confident that, with your leadership, our discussions will be productive. We also welcome your vice-chairs. 

We thank the Secretariat for the timely presentation and comprehensiveness of the working documents, and its dedication in ensuring that all operations continue in a smooth and efficient manner during these challenging times. 

The United States fully endorses the statement delivered earlier by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom on behalf of Group B.

The United States would like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank Director General Francis Gurry for his devoted stewardship of WIPO over his two terms as Director General, and his tremendous contributions to the Organization throughout his 35 years there.  

Director General Gurry has been an eloquent advocate globally for the importance of intellectual property and its positive impact on society. During his tenure, WIPO saw a steady increase in the use of its invaluable patent, trademark, and industrial design registration services, and brought two important copyright treaties into force. We commend his forward-looking vision that brought WIPO into the 21st Century, in terms of both the adoption and the understanding of new technologies. We wish Director General Gurry the very best in his future endeavors. 

Turning towards WIPO’s future, we are confident that this organization will continue its critical function as the major international body advancing global creativity and innovation.  

The United States congratulates Daren Tang on his election as the next Director General of WIPO. We have long appreciated Mr. Tang’s effective leadership over many years, both in his role as Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, and as Chair of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. We look forward to working with him as Director General of WIPO to continue promoting intellectual property in all sectors of society and throughout all regions of the world.  

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to physically distance, it has brought us closer in other ways. IP offices around the world have been consulting throughout the pandemic, learning from each other and sharing best practices. WIPO has been a driving force in these collaborations. 

There is some good news in these troubled times—innovation and entrepreneurship are still thriving. As have our counterparts around the world, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has continued to examine patent and trademark applications with unprecedented efficiency. And we have done so much more to support the innovative community as it strives to overcome today’s challenges.

For example, we have offered new programs to expedite examination of patent and trademark applications related to COVID-19. We have extended deadlines and waived many fees. Our examiners and administrative judges have increasingly made use of video conferencing to continue their interactions with those who appear before them. Moreover, we are now allowing all documents and applications, including plant patent applications, to be filed electronically. 

We also know that especially during a crisis, the ability to license existing technology can further accelerate the development of new technology. So earlier this year, the USPTO launched the Patents 4 Partnerships (P4P) platform, which helps inventors showcase their patents, and potential licensees identify the technology they wish to license. This platform allows an owner of a patent or published patent application covering a COVID-19 related invention to voluntarily list it as available for licensing. 

The U.S. Copyright Office, too, has taken specific actions to ensure that mission-critical functions continue during the ongoing challenges caused by COVID-19, ranging from practice changes to rule adjustments, all to better serve the public who use its registration, recordation, and licensing services. While celebrating its 150th year, the Copyright Office has maintained a busy pace of issuing policy studies, conducting rulemakings, and providing public education and outreach to many audiences. 

Chair, in light of the current crisis and the heightened focus on IP issues globally, it is important to stress that IP experts must be involved whenever important IP policies are being discussed. To that end, if any United Nations entity is to hold discussions on IP policy, WIPO must play a leading role. As the agency within the United Nations system responsible for IP services, policy, information, and cooperation, WIPO has the necessary expertise and experience to address the issues arising for IP and innovation. 

The United States looks forward to working with the Secretariat and other Member States to ensure that WIPO continues to be a smoothly-functioning, transparent, and effective organization.  We are committed to maintaining WIPO services at the highest level and ensuring that the recognition of the value of intellectual property rights is always the organization’s primary focus.

Thank you, Chair.