The following remarks were delivered by United States Representatives John Ratcliffe (R-TX-4th) and Ted Deutch (D-FL-22nd), Co-Chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Trademark Caucus (CTC), during the opening ceremonies of INTA’s Leadership Meeting in Washington, D.C., on November 7
Representative John Ratcliffe
I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak to such an esteemed group of leaders about our efforts in Congress to educate members on the importance of trademark matters on brand owners, manufacturing, jobs, economic growth, and everyday lives of consumers.
We re-launched the Congressional Trademark Caucus in the House and Senate back on World IP Day in April and held a well-attended congressional briefing just last month.
The Caucus is bipartisan and bicameral, which signals the huge support that these issues have on Capitol Hill. I want to take a moment right up front to give INTA credit for their invaluable role in supporting the Caucus and spreading the word to Congress members and Senators on both sides of the aisle.
I don’t have to explain to this crowd what an important role trademarks play in protecting consumer health and safety. Some take it for granted here in America, but we rely on trademarks every single day as we shop for groceries, fill prescriptions, and even make big purchases like cars.
Trusted brands in food, medicine, entertainment, and even airplane parts, for example, are critically important in our day-to-day lives. The diversity—and immense economic contributions—of the industries represented by our panelists today show us how far-reaching this issue truly is.
Counterfeits are on the rise in America and around the world. Fake products can pose huge safety risks to families. They can also undermine the confidence that consumers have in certain brands, endangering those legitimate brand owners.
As a former U.S. Attorney and terrorism prosecutor, though, one piece of this puzzle that I’m especially concerned about is the critical national security implications
of counterfeiting. Yes, counterfeit medicines can seriously injure patients and significantly harm legitimate brand owners, but to compound the problem, counterfeiting also has well-established links to organized crime and terrorist organizations. That link is one that I hope to make more members of Congress aware of—particularly members who serve on national security committees.
Some of these lawmakers may not feel that intellectual property issues fall within their wheelhouse. They may not be familiar with trademark issues, per se, but it’s my hope that we can spread the word about how these organizations that threaten our national security profit hugely from counterfeiting.
Moving forward, I’m excited to work with my co-chairs, in partnership with many of you here, to (1) raise awareness about the importance of trademarks; and (2) help families learn about protecting themselves against dangerous counterfeit products.
I’m honored to co-lead this effort and appreciate everyone in attendance today.
Thanks so much!
Representative Ted Deutch
Good afternoon, everyone!
Thank you for the kind introduction, Joe.
Thank you to Etienne for your vision and hard work guiding INTA as CEO.
I am honored to join you today to offer a few words of welcome to kick off the 2017 INTA leadership meeting. This is my first year as the House co-chair of the Trademarks Caucus, but I’ve been focusing on intellectual property throughout my career in Congress. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee I’ve had the opportunity to dig in on many of the important issues facing your businesses; protecting consumers, and protecting your businesses from piracy and counterfeiting, but for many of my colleagues intellectual property and the importance of trademarks isn’t something they are thinking about every day.
No doubt, the American people are more familiar now with the power of brands than before 2016. Whether it’s towers, steaks, water, or big beautiful wineries; a brand is more than just the product; brands are statements of character. They are expressions of the guiding principles at the foundation of an enterprise, and brands are a tremendous source of value; IP-intensive industries account for roughly 40 percent of GDP in Europe and the United States. So, the answer to “what’s in a name” is: jobs, innovation, growth, and prosperity.
There is a lot on the line for businesses large and small when it comes to trademarks. I will borrow from a recent story about a small craft brewery in my home district in South East Florida. One of the most vibrant areas for trademark law today is in craft beer. Colorful names, catchy logos, and so many puns. It’s a crowded marketplace. It’s difficult to stand out on the shelf. Yet, a small brewery in my district, Funky Buddha, developed a strong reputation. Sure their beer is excellent, but their brand is so much more than the beer they brew.
This summer, Constellation Brands—the global beverage corporation that is probably best known for Corona and other beer imports in the U.S.— decided that Funky Buddha would be its next step into the craft beer market. Funky Buddha joined Ballast Point, a San Diego‒based brewery that Constellation purchased last year, as part of their American craft beer portfolio. The purchase will bring new capital down to Oakland Park Florida, and there are already expansion plans in the works.
The brewery jumped from producing 27,000 barrels in 2016 to 35,000 this year, and is looking to build beyond its current facility’s 45,000 barrel capacity. That’s good news for South Florida workers throughout the supply chain and our broader tourism industry, and it wouldn’t be possible without the ability to protect the tremendous value in the creativity and innovation happening at that little brewery just outside Fort Lauderdale.
That’s why the relationships you build at this week’s conference are so important. The big, global issues that you are all dealing with on a daily basis ripple out to every community throughout the country—and why it’s important for you to share your own stories with members of Congress.
I know this week will present some excellent opportunities to bring your own experiences forward to share the importance of strong trademark protections with policymakers.
In my short time as co-chair, it has been a pleasure to work with INTA to bring these issues to the top of mind for my colleagues.
I’m excited about working with my friend Rep. Ratcliffe, and our Senate counterparts Senator Coons and Senator Grassley, to ensure that our colleagues understand that piracy and counterfeiting is not a victimless crime.
We need more of our friends in the House and Senate to understand that the safety and security of American consumers, businesses small and large, the American economy, and the global economy are all at stake. This summer I had the pleasure of working with INTA, my local chambers of commerce, and the U.S. Department of Commerce to host a trademarks 101 roundtable for local businesses. From the smallest tech startups with a few innovators launching their passion project to established corporations that employ thousands of my own constituents, it’s important that we bring both private and public sector leaders together to share resources and work toward an economy that promotes fairness and upholds our intellectual property laws.
This year, a report by Frontier Economics estimated devastating global costs of counterfeiting and digital piracy between $923 billion and $1.13 trillion; and predicts these costs could double by 2022. While these costs should concern every member of Congress and every business leader, there was encouraging news in the Frontier report as well.
Strong enforcement is a worthwhile investment. If we work together to achieve just one percentage point of prevention, we could get back between $30 billion and $54 billion in economic growth in 2017. As the administration moves forward with the renegotiation of NAFTA, Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative, noted increasing piracy and counterfeiting as a troubling trend in the 2017 Special 301 report. Our ability to engage in fair trade moving forward will depend on strengthening our ability to enforce intellectual property protections in these vital relationships. Strong protections and strong enforcement will protect jobs in the United States and other innovative economies around the globe.
It’s clear that your work in protecting brands around the world is important to your own careers, your own companies, but the work you do this week in building connections throughout INTA and in Congress will benefit our world.
Thank you all for taking the time to come to Washington.
I look forward to meeting you and discussing how we can grow the work of the Trademarks Caucus together.
Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.
© 2017 International Trademark Association