WASHINGTON DC– Today, Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to repeal “section 211,” a law that threatens thousands of U.S. trademarks currently registered in Cuba.
“NFTC’s 300 member companies support full repeal of section 211 as embodied in
S. 2002, the U.S. Cuba Trademark Protection Act. Quite simply, it’s the only way to ensure compliance with all U.S. trade and treaty obligations and protect the interests of the more than 400 U.S. companies currently holding 5,000 trademarks in Cuba,” remarked Reinsch.
Reinsch was one of several experts asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the issue of section 211 of the 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The law allows for discriminatory treatment of certain Cuban trademarks by prohibiting their renewal and by denying their holders access to legal redress in U.S. courts.
The WTO has ruled that section 211 violates TRIPS, the global intellectual property protection treaty, and has given Congress until the end of 2004 to bring the U.S. back into compliance.
Because section 211 is not consistent with long-standing U.S. intellectual-property protection obligations, the 5,000 American trademarks currently registered in Cuba are in jeopardy of infringement and counterfeiting.
“As we saw in South Africa, recovering the rights to trademarks necessitates lengthy and expensive litigation. The U.S. can avoid a repeat scenario in Cuba by maintaining consistent and predictable intellectual property relations. Step one in this maintenance must be full repeal of section 211,” continued Reinsch.
Despite political hostilities spanning four decades, both the U.S. and Cuba, in a rare act of cooperation, have respected each other’s intellectual property rights by honoring trademarks for nearly 75 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 300 member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.