Advancing U.S. interests abroad
Blog by Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO
Director Vidal addresses the WIPO General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, in July 2022.
The Biden Administration is strengthening international engagement and economic growth by working in partnership with allies and partner countries to enhance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, fairness, and competitiveness. To advance that goal, I recently led a USPTO delegation at the 63rd Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Our delegation participated in numerous bilateral meetings with other intellectual property (IP) offices to improve IP systems globally. We are making it easier for U.S. businesses to compete through stronger IP protection and reduced barriers to global protection.
While in Geneva, we formed new partnerships with WIPO to advance the development of green technologies and to support work in the standard-setting area. In support of the Biden Administration’s actions to address the clear and present danger of climate change, the USPTO entered into a partnership with WIPO GREEN. This global online platform facilitates the dissemination and advancement of environmentally friendly technologies, provides opportunities for collaboration and partnership, and encourages widespread adoption.
With 146 international partners, including major tech companies, IP offices, business groups, and non-governmental organizations, WIPO GREEN provides opportunities for U.S. innovators to advance their innovation in green technologies and bring their ideas to market and to the world. This work complements our own climate change initiatives, including the USPTO Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program, which accelerates the examination of patent applications involving innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Following our withdrawal of the 2013, 2019, and the decision not to finalize the 2021 draft standard-essential patent (SEPs) policy statements, the USPTO and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have been working with the Biden Administration and stakeholders on strategies to encourage and advance U.S. interests in the key technologies that have and will become standards across the globe—from wireless communication technologies and computer connection standards to new and emerging technologies. We must continue to encourage U.S. participation in standard-setting organizations and the efficient and effective adoption of those technologies by our industries, as part of our efforts to promote innovation in the standards space and drive sustainable, long-term growth in the U.S. economy.
Director Vidal and WIPO Director General Daren Tang signed an agreement to facilitate the resolution of disputes related to standard essential patents.
On July 20, WIPO Director General Daren Tang and I signed an agreement to bring awareness to services that WIPO has in place to facilitate the resolution of disputes related to SEPs. As part of the agreement, we will leverage existing resources both at the USPTO and at WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center. Stay tuned for additional programs on mediation and ways for the USPTO to be a catalyst for economic growth in this critical space.
Director Vidal and Director General of the Malaysia IP office, Mr. Abdul Haris Lakar, signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway Pilot Program.
The Geneva meetings provided our delegation an opportunity to meet with leaders of many of the world’s IP offices, including the European Patent Office and the Japan Patent Office, both of which are members of the multilateral IP groups IP5 and Trilateral. I also discussed with several of my counterparts, including from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), an initiative launched by President Biden in May 2022 to ensure American workers and businesses can compete in the Indo-Pacific market, while also benefitting people of the region by enhancing the economic competitiveness of the United States and the IPEF partners. At our meeting with the Director General of the Malaysia IP office, Mr. Abdul Haris Lakar, we signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Pilot Program with Malaysia. Building on the now 37 PPH agreements the USPTO has entered into to reduce the barriers and costs for IP protection by US companies and innovators across the globe, and to increase efficiencies and improve quality, we met with many other countries to discuss expanding PPH and other collaborations.
We also continued our discussions and support for the Ukrainian Intellectual Property Institute. Resolutely, they continue to operate without interruption despite the Russian invasion of their country.
All-in-all, we met with senior officials of IP offices in Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and North America, and held discussions which ranged from collaborations to address challenges in the areas of global health and the economy to brainstorming additional ways to increase the participation of women and other underrepresented and underserved groups in IP.
As we hear from stakeholders, we have also broadened our engagement with the UK Intellectual Property Office and are working with them to establish a US-UK IP working group to continue and expand our efforts. As former leader Tim Moss moves on, I’ve welcomed interim CEO Adam Williams and we are in discussions about future collaborations.
As we continue regular conversations and collaborations with WIPO and these countries on key stakeholder priorities, I now head to Southeast Asia to continue these efforts. During that trip, I will continue our work with WIPO, IP5 and the Trilateral offices, as well as with IPEF countries.
Together, we will evolve the global IP ecosystem to be a true catalyst for more inclusive innovation and economic prosperity—one that will help solve the common challenges we all face.