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Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry - Upcoming WIPO General Director Election


Location: Washington, DC

The Honorable John Kerry

Secretary, U.S. Department of State

Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry,

We write to express our deep concern regarding the upcoming election for Director General at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

As you know, patents are the cornerstone of the modern American economy. The Administration concluded last year that nearly 30 percent of U.S. jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to IP-intensive industries. And because U.S. industry operates in global markets, the proper functioning of international IP systems is imperative.

Those international IP systems are the responsibility of WIPO, the only user fee-supported agency of the United Nations. More of those fees come from U.S. innovators than from anyplace else in the world. We therefore have a critical national interest in WIPO's governance.

We understand that the process for election of the WIPO Director General has just begun, and that the incumbent, Francis Gurry, has signaled his interest in being re-elected for another six year term.

We urge the Administration not to support Mr. Gurry's bid for re-election. Early last year it was discovered that he had been using WIPO funds to send secret shipments of expensive American-made computer equipment to North Korea and Iran. This is activity that would have put any U.S. citizen behind bars, but when caught in the act, Gurry did not stop or even apologize. Instead he claimed that U.S. law was of no concern to him or WIPO. Then he refused to allow WIPO witnesses to testify in a bipartisan investigation being conducted by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Gurry's erratic and secretive behavior and colossal lack of judgment must disqualify him from receiving support from the U.S. government. We call on the Administration to work diligently to identify and support an alternate candidate for leadership of this most important agency.


Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Howard Coble (R-NC) and Mel Watt (D-NC)

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