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NFTC President Urges Congress to Repeal Section 211
Date: 3/3/2010
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, 202-822-9491

Washington, DC – In testimony delivered today before the House Judiciary Committee, National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) President Bill Reinsch urged Congress to repeal Section 211 of the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which prohibits the United States from honoring trademarks of Cuban origin that were associated with businesses nationalized by the Cuban government in the early 1960s. The repeal of this provision – which is currently included in several House bills – would improve U.S. standing in the international trade community and benefit the American businesses.

"If this provision is maintained in law, its long term impact will be to jeopardize U.S. standing in the global intellectual property debate and to invite retaliation by Cuba, which could jeopardize trademark protection for over 5,000 U.S. trademarks currently registered in Cuba by more than 400 American companies," Reinsch stated in his testimony. "The provision has no benefits for the U.S. business community and is far more likely to cause significant damage."

Reinsch noted that Section 211 violates our WTO obligations and a major international treaty, the General Inter-American Convention for Trademarks and Commercial Protection, which requires a mutually honored recognition of intellectual property rights between the U.S. and Cuba. "The only effective remedy is repeal," said Reinsch. "Repeal would ensure continued U.S. leadership on intellectual property issues by bringing the U.S. into compliance with all existing treaty obligations and by exemplifying high standards of intellectual property protection, including our commitment not to assign trademarks based on political criteria," Reinsch stated in his testimony.

"The United States has long been a leader in securing intellectual property rights globally. Repeal of Section 211 will help sustain the U.S. position in this regard by providing assurance that American trademarks and trade names will be protected even when held by representatives of governments with which we have difficult relations," said Reinsch. "In contrast, failing to repeal Section 211 threatens to overshadow the important contributions being made by the Congress and the Executive Branch to a consistent and predictable international intellectual property policy that serves the needs of U.S. business."

For Reinsch's full testimony, please click here.

About the NFTC

Advancing Global Commerce for 95 Years - The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York. Follow us on: