Amid claims that it is one of the world’s leading sources of intellectual property theft, China is trying to get one of its officials appointed to head an international agency that oversees intellectual property around the world.
Not so fast, a key Trump administration official has said, according to Fox News.
What’s known as the World Intellectual Property Organization will be getting a new individual to serve as its director for the next six years.
“The US believes that giving control of WIPO to a representative of China would be a terrible mistake,” Peter Navarro, assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy, wrote last week in the Financial Times (subscription required).
Navarro noted that the organization “regulates systems managing 43m patent documents. This treasure trove includes unpublished patent applications and commercially sensitive information from more than 200 jurisdictions and patent information collections.”
Navarro wrote that the stakes are high.
“When patents and trade secrets are stolen, counterfeit goods are produced and traded openly. Trademarks are infringed. Competition is stymied. Revenues diminish. Governments, businesses and consumers all lose,” he wrote.
“International IP rules underpin the innovation economy.”
Navarro wrote that China can’t be trusted with the job.
“China is responsible for 85 per cent of counterfeits seized by US border officials; and Chinese IP theft costs the American economy between $225bn and $600bn annually,” he wrote.
The rest of the world also suffers at China’s hands, Navarro wrote.
“IP infringements cost European firms billions of euros each year. In the developing world, Chinese counterfeits have damaged the handmade traditional textile industries in Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Guinea. If China were to match western standards for IP protection and enforcement, it might be in a position to provide a leader for Wipo. That day is certainly not today,” Navarro wrote.
Navarro noted that China is seeking to control several other U.N. agencies that have a vast global reach, thus increasing China’s clout and control around the globe.
“The US and the rest of the UN must also act quickly to assess — and counteract — China’s broader efforts to control other international organizations,” he wrote.
James Pooley, a former deputy director general of WIPO, said China can’t be allowed to gain control of the organization.
“The U.S. cannot afford to have the world’s most rapacious trade secret thief send in one of its own to run this institution,” he said, according to Fox. “We have to make it clear that any Chinese candidate is simply unacceptable.“
Pooley said if China gets control of the organization, the U.S. would need to stop sharing patent applications with the organization in order to protect American inventors.
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