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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

IP in Development

Date: 07/25/2012 Description: The Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement organized a discussion to educate participants on how Ethiopian coffee growers, Ugandan shea butter producers, and the Maasai tribe could increase the value of their products and image through the use of trademarks and certifications, accompanied by sophisticated marketing. - State Dept Image

When President Obama launched the U.S. Government’s Strategy for American Innovation in 2009, he said, "The United States led the world’s economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation.” Laws respecting intellectual property rights (IPR) and effective IP enforcement helped to spur that innovation and America’s development.

Creating and ensuring a sound IPR environment requires the sustained commitment of national and local governments and the participation of creators, inventors, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. To that end, the U.S. Department of State and several international organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have engaged with leaders and communities in developing countries to highlight the benefits of effective IPR protection, such as increased jobs and income. A sound IPR framework encourages creativity, foreign direct investment, and technology transfer on voluntary and mutually agreeable terms and conditions that, in turn, help developed and developing economies grow.

An effective IPR regime creates value by enabling inventors and artists to benefit financially from their works, through patent and copyright protection, respectively. It enables companies to differentiate their products from those of other companies by using trademarks. Consumers will often pay a premium for products bearing a well-known trademark since that mark may represent a high level of quality, design, customer service or other desirable trait (s). Therefore, a country with an effective IPR regime is better able to attract inventors and artists, and exports and investments from companies whose products benefit from IP protection.

The State Department works with international organizations and participates in bilateral agreements to support development through IPR. At the WTO, the United States submits a report annually regarding its technical assistance and capacity building efforts with Least Developed Countries under Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement. The State Department also funds training projects that enable U.S. law enforcement agencies and diplomatic missions to collaborate in the delivery of IPR enforcement training and technical assistance programs to foreign law enforcement partners. This training has been provided to our partners in developing nations around the world. Click here for press releases on the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) programs.

The Department of State oversees bilateral Science and Technology (S&T) agreements that provide a framework for coordinating research collaboration, discussing cross-cutting themes, and addressing impediments in the bilateral relationship. The S&T Agreements cover collaboration in a wide range of fields such as health sciences and public health, watershed management, agriculture, environment and biodiversity protection, biotechnology, earth sciences, marine science and the development of alternative energy sources. These agreements benefit U.S. technical agencies by creating opportunities to conduct excellent scientific research. They benefit our partners by strengthening their science education systems, building their institutional and human resource capacity, and fostering their appreciation for the role of S&T principles in scientific enterprises. For example, activities under particular S&T Agreements highlight the importance of strengthening university/private sector linkages to commercialize research.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

WIPO provides assistance to member states seeking to determine the economic contribution of their copyright-based industries in terms of their share in gross domestic product, generation of employment and trade. The results of national studies, prepared by local researchers with the assistance of WIPO experts, are available on WIPO’s Economic Contribution and Mapping webpage.

WIPO hosts the IP Advantage, a database which chronicles the IP “experiences of inventors, creators, entrepreneurs and researchers from across the globe…and how its successful exploitation can contribute to development,” and also videos featuring international artists and musicians describing the importance of IP. For example:


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