The United States promotes strong and effective IP protection around the world by means of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and its international intellectual property (IP) attaché program. With representation currently only at the EU-level in Brussels, this is not sufficient in the face of an increasingly challenging IP environment in Europe. We believe that there is a need to enhance and protect the European patent ecosystem, not only at the EU-level, but also at the national level with a USPTO presence in Germany. We advocate for Germany, the country with one of the most robust IP frameworks in Europe, as the ideal location for the USPTO to enhance patent protection at the European national level through the IP attaché model.
The need for USPTO presence to tackle IP issues at the European national level
The USPTO’s IP attaché program works to improve intellectual property systems internationally. This includes helping to secure high standards in intellectual agreements and host country laws, and encouraging effective IP protection and enforcement by U.S. trading partners. With the establishment of an attaché in Brussels in 2016, the USPTO addresses IP issues at the European Union (EU) level. This office has its focus on issues such as the EU’s IP incentives review and the SPC manufacturing exemption. However, at Bayer, we see that there is still a need to address IP issues at the national level within Europe as IP rights are still chiefly protected by national, rather than EU laws.
Harnessing Germany’s role as an IP hub for European USPTO presence
According to the 2018 Global Innovation Index, Germany remains Europe’s most significant hub for intellectual property and ranks ninth worldwide. The USPTO cannot exist in every European country, but we believe that it can leverage Germany as Europe’s most significant IP hub through an IP attaché in Berlin. Germany’s leadership in this area is driven by its attraction to multinational R&D firms, its robust startup environment, and its role as host of the European Patent Office. This makes it the ideal location for the USPTO to enhance the framework for patent protection at the European national level and Bayer therefore calls for the establishment of a USPTO attaché in Germany.
Preserving Germany’s position as a positive voice in IP is also imperative as there are grassroots activities in neighboring EU countries and in nearby non-EU emerging markets which threaten European and global frameworks for IP protection. Germany, which also serves as Europe’s most influential market, has deep diplomatic ties to IP-challenged environments such as the EU, Russia, and Turkey. At Bayer, we are also concerned about the greater prevalence of grassroots anti-IP voices in Germany, and therefore a USPTO presence at the heart of the debate in the country could “firefight” these types of issues locally before they reach the EU level. We believe that Germany’s role as an IP hub, further enhanced by a USPTO presence, can therefore serve as IP ecosystem surveillance, thought leadership, and IP risk mitigation necessary to promote IP in Germany, Europe, and the world.
Bayer’s commitment to protecting intellectual property rights
We strongly support the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) as they are a crucial part of the innovation process, and the patent system is a precondition for the development of innovative products. Promoting the protection of intellectual property rights can go hand in hand with promoting access to medicines by strengthening healthcare systems. Innovative medicines can help to build resilient healthcare systems, when its value is determined in a holistic way. We therefore advocate for the establishment of a USPTO attaché in Germany, as the IP attaché model meets the need to enhance and protect the patent ecosystem through a new presence in Germany.