The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) yesterday urged the U.S. government to boost its efforts to protect U.S. manufacturing innovation against the threat of intellectual property (IP) theft globally in a detailed submission to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Innovation and IP remains the foundation for a globally competitive manufacturing sector in the United States. Yet, global infringement of IP, including patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights, hurts the ability of manufacturers in the United States to not only innovate but also to sustain and create well-paying jobs. The NAM looks forward to working closely with the Trump administration on stepped-up and vigorous efforts to combat IP theft and to protect and secure strong enforcement of IP rights both at home and abroad.
Through the statutorily mandated Special 301 report—released in April each year—the USTR will identify actions taken by other countries that deny adequate and effective IP protection and enforcement and cite particular countries for follow-up action. The NAM’s submission identified IP problems in nearly 40 foreign countries as well as cross-cutting concerns that negatively impact manufacturers and jobs in the United States, including increasing challenges to the legitimate use of trademarks, efforts to restrict the ability of innovators to protect products through patents, the lack of effective trade secrets protection, rampant counterfeiting and piracy and increasing challenges to IP rights in international forums.
The NAM spotlighted a group of 11 countries with major issues, asking the USTR to prioritize and designate them as either “priority watch list” or “watch list.” Both designations indicate serious concerns, with priority watch list countries also requiring the USTR to draft and implement a specific action plan with respect to each of these countries to ensure concrete progress on other country’s failure to protect and enforce IP rights. Many of these countries, including China, India, Canada, Colombia and Russia, have long been in the NAM’s top-five countries of concern, but this year’s submission also urges greater attention to Indonesia given a number of concerning trends.
IP remains central to the U.S. economy and U.S. manufacturing in particular: Strong IP protection and enforcement strengthens U.S. manufacturing and creates continued and new opportunities for well-paying manufacturing jobs that pay on average 27 percent more than nonmanufacturing jobs. It also drives U.S. innovation and creative solutions by companies small and large to emerging global challenges.
With the Trump administration’s strong focus on U.S. manufacturing and correcting unfair and market-distorting trade practices overseas, the NAM looks forward to working with the USTR and other key parts of the administration, including the Department of Commerce and the Department of State, to prioritize work with individual countries to promote much stronger IP protection.
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