USPTO/WIPO Program Prepares Asia-Pacific Judges for WTO Intellectual Property Rights Compliance

Press Release

Ruth Nyblod

The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in conjunction with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), held a seminar on July 14-18, 2003, for 16 supreme and appellate court judges from the Asia-Pacific region. The program exposed the judges to a wide range of policy considerations and challenges that their national court systems face in implementing the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The 1995 multi-national TRIPS agreement establishes international standards for enforcement of intellectual property rights including the civil, criminal and administrative procedures that must be made available, and the powers that must be granted to judicial and other enforcement authorities.

"International intellectual property rights have little meaning for American business without strong enforcement systems," noted Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property James E. Rogan. "Today the U.S. economy is suffering billions of dollars in lost sales, wages and tax revenues due to overseas piracy of software, music, DVDs, and other digitized information." To counter this economic drain, the USPTO focuses significant attention on the enforcement of intellectual property rights abroad and on combating piracy."

The program was a first of its kind for jurists of this level and rank. Participants, who came from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, are the judges who interpret the law and often have a direct say in the management and administration of the judicial and court system in their respective countries.

Among the highlights of the program were a roundtable discussion with seven members of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; a digital videoconference roundtable with Circuit Judge Clifford Wallace of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Judge Paul Magnuson, chair of the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on International Judicial Relations, and Chief Judge Edward Damich of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims; and a luncheon and briefing on current intellectual property rights issues with Chairman James Sensenbrenner and other members of the House Judiciary Committee, including Ranking Member John Conyers, and members Howard Coble, Melissa Hart, and Robert Wexler.

# # #