[A2k] Karin Ferriter (USPTO/USTR), Todd Reves (State) unloads on Geneva NGOs at US Chamber of Commerce meeting
james.love at keionline.org
Sun Dec 16 05:06:17 PST 2012
My tax dollars at work. Karin Ferriter (USPTO/USTR) and Todd Reves
(State) tell corporate lobbyists at a US Chamber meeting they have to
do something about Geneva NGOs. Reves tells the US Chamber it is a
case of “the wrong people talking to the right people.” Karin is
ever more offensive. If I can return the favor, allow me to say that
it is appalling we have negotiators representing the USA in Geneva who
have no clue how exceptions and limitations to patents and copyrights,
a robust public domain, and a leaky enforcement system are actually
helpful in a world were the IP system is increasingly a barrier to
innovation and economic growth.
US IP Officials Blast NGOs In Geneva
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch on 16/12/2012 @ 12:51 pm
Washington, DC – United States attachés stationed around the world in
order to promote intellectual property rights reported on their
activities to US industry here last week. And the attachès posted in
Geneva had strong words for the work of non-governmental organisations
operating at the World Trade Organization and the United Nations
The US Patent and Trademark Office operates a growing IP attaché
programme  that posts officials in a number of major cities
worldwide. Last week, an annual gathering of the attachés was held at
the US Chamber of Commerce, the industry association.
IP attachés are being placed in nine cities around the world: Geneva;
Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Cairo, New Delhi, Mexico
City, Moscow, and Bangkok.
The stated goals of the IP attaché are:
To promote U.S. government IPR policy internationally.
To help secure strong IPR provisions in international agreements and
host country laws.
To encourage strong IPR protection and enforcement by U.S. trading
partners for the benefit of U.S. rights holders.
Karin Ferriter, the IP attaché to the World Trade Organization, had
particularly sharp words for non-governmental organisations operating
in Geneva, where she said there a “number of people working to
Such opponents are “heavily populated” in Geneva but not typically
found in the capitals, she said. She referred to a recent trip she had
to Cameroon, where, she said, government officials were “true
believers” and want better quality products through IP rights.
“People in Geneva are misinformed by the NGO community to devalue IP,”
Ferriter said. And the job of the IP attachés is to remind them of the
importance of IP and a strong IP system.
“Unfortunately,” she said, NGOs “are working just as much as possible
to weaken the IP system.” There is a disconnect, Ferriter said, “but
that’s where we come in, to help them see the value of it.”
Ferriter said least-developed countries are being counselled to extend
the deadline to enforce the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) at the WTO. She argued that it is
not to their own advantage to keep putting it off.
Todd Reves, the IP attaché to the UN in Geneva, particularly the World
Intellectual Property Organization, concurred with Ferriter. He said
in Geneva, it is often a case of “the wrong people talking to the
right people.” Some diplomats there are not IP experts, and some are
given more flexibility to act on their government’s behalf, so they
are “more susceptible” to the messages of the NGOs. “They may be
hearing the wrong message,” he said.
“There is a significant gap between Geneva and the rest of the world,”
Reves said. Debates at Geneva institutions are used by countries to
advance their foreign policy goals.
In general, Reves said it has been an “incredibly busy year” in
Geneva, referring indirectly to developments such as the discovery
that WIPO was transferring high technology to sanctioned countries
like North Korea and Iran. He also gave a list of normative work
occurring at WIPO, like the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual
But he also said developing countries continue to push to use
flexibilities in IP law, and push the make the IP system fit different
levels of development. “These are things developed countries really
try to push back on,” he said.
The attaché in Brazil, Albert Keyack, said there are changes coming in
that country. He said the NGOs in Brazil are “fairly vocal,” but that
Brazil has “good laws in place.” He also pointed to indications of
support for patents by the Brazilian president. It is recognised in
Brazil that it has a “wonderful” higher education system but is low in
patenting, and is working to change this.
Peter Fowler, the regional attaché for Southeast Asia, said that in
that region, intellectual property rights are equated with products
being more expensive. So, he said, it is important to focus on the
positive benefits of IP. He said that NGOs there are overwhelmingly
anti-IP, and are good about echoing the view that IP creates barriers
to access and raises costs.
But, Fowler said, there is “no serious government” in the region that
is not doing something to improve the IP system. He pointed to
Malaysia as an example.
He also said IPR is playing a role in the Association of South-East
Asian Nations (ASEAN), and that many companies in the region
understand the importance of protecting copyrights, trademarks and so
forth. There is a “flurry” of activity among countries, improving
their IP systems. They may not be able to get complete harmonisation
of their IP laws, but they are looking at what each other is doing, he
said, adding, “It’s not all bad.”
Fowler said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations
include 4 ASEAN countries and there is a “ripple effect.” It will
raise the bar in ASEAN as to what is expected of countries, he said.
He encouraged industry to step up its involvement in the region. In
many countries in Southeast Asia, there are no loud vocal champions,
no IP constituents saying, ‘this is what we need’, he said, though
this is starting to change.
Fowler also said that in very few legislatures or Parliaments are
there voices that advocate for IP. There are “a lot of great policies
[and] draft legislation that just sits there, doesn’t move,” he said.
Reves summed up: “We’re trying to change the view that IP is bad to IP
is good.” He mentioned an enterprise forum that is in the works for
the 2013 WIPO General Assembly next October, at which companies will
highlight the advantages of IP rights. He said that while “the jury is
still out,” he is optimistic that five years from now the debate in
Geneva will turn more pro-IP.
Ferriter agreed, pointing to positive changes in countries such as
Brazil or Vietnam. “It will take time,” she said, “but IP is clearly
here to stay.”
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
 IP attaché programme: http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/attache/index.jsp
 Officials, Industry Discuss IPR In Relation To Economy And
 A Look At Who’s Who In Geneva IP Policymaking And Beyond:
 Most-Read IP-Watch Posts Of 2011 Tell Story Of International IP
Click here to print.
James Love. Knowledge Ecology International
http://www.keionline.org, +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile: +1.202.361.3040,
Geneva Mobile: +41.76.413.6584, efax: +1.888.245.3140.
More information about the A2k