Statement by NFTC President Bill Reinsch on the Introduction of S. 1806 to Repeal Section 211
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, 202-822-9491
Washington, D.C. – National Foreign Trade Council President and USA*Engage Co-Chair Bill Reinsch today issued the following statement commending Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho for introducing S. 1806, which would repeal Section 211 of the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
“We applaud the efforts of Senators Leahy, Craig, Bingaman and Roberts, who continue to demonstrate great leadership in working to restore a level playing field to legal battles over trademark rights,” said Reinsch. “Section 211 is a special interest measure that discriminates against certain Cuban trademarks by preventing their registration and recognition by U.S. courts. Section 211 was not considered by any Congressional committee, and it was found to violate WTO rules for protecting trademarks over five years ago.”
“NFTC members are concerned that maintaining this violation of both WTO rules and the Inter-American Convention for Trademarks and Commercial Protection will encourage the Cuban government to discriminate against the thousands of American trademarks registered in Cuba by hundreds of U.S. companies. The Leahy-Craig bill would restore to U.S. courts the full authority to decide trademark disputes and deprive Castro of any basis for such discrimination,” Reinsch continued.
He concluded, “Unlike halfway measures, the Leahy-Craig bill would clean up the entire problem created by Section 211 almost 10 years ago. By repealing Section 211 in its entirety, the Leahy-Craig bill would bring the United States into compliance with its obligations under the WTO TRIPS Agreement and the more demanding standards of the Inter-American Convention for Trademarks and Commercial Protection. It is also important to note that the Leahy-Craig bill would not settle any pending trademark disputes. It would merely return them to the courts where they belong.”
Over a dozen Senators and 60 House members have co-sponsored legislation that would repeal Section 211 in the current Congress.
The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) 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.