US Trade Representative (USTR) Susan C. Schwab announced plans to pursue a major new initiative
aimed at combating international intellectual property counterfeiting and piracy. At a meeting with
the Congressional Caucus on Intellectual Property and Piracy Prevention, Schwab said counterfeiting
and piracy are global problems that rob individuals and businesses of billions of dollars and put
public health and safety at risk.
She said she has developed a blueprint for negotiations with major US trading partners that
would lead to stronger laws, closer cross-border cooperation and law enforcement, and adoption of
practices that make intellectual property rights enforcement “real and effective.” She said that
while the World Trade Organization is enforcing minimum standards now, the new initiative would be
aimed at going beyond the minimum.
Schwab said the United States already is working with a number of key trading partners, large
and small, including Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and Switzerland;
and she expressed hope that others will join over time.
She said it is important to establish a group of countries that are “looking ahead and
setting a higher bar to grapple with the global challenge of counterfeiting and piracy.”
Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), says piracy
is a continuing major problem for US textile manufacturers, particularly upholstery makers, and
that China is the biggest offender.
Pointing out that apparel accounted for 14 percent of all counterfeit goods seized by US
Customs in the first half of this year, Kevin Burke, president and CEO of the American Apparel and
Footwear Association, said, “The prevalence of knock-offs is a serious threat to the apparel and
footwear industry’s companies, workers and consumers.”
October 30, 2007