Obama Administration Embraces Corporate Lobbyists on IP Issues in Geneva

Today IP-Watch has an amazing story of an Obama administration trip to Geneva to discuss intellectual property issues. Apparently the USPTO organized the trip, which included several Obama officials, plus these congressional staff:

Christal Sheppard, counsel for House of Reprentatives Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan (Democrat); John Mautz, legislative director for Rep. Howard Coble of North Carolina; and Matthew Sandgren, counsel for Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. Erik Stallman, senior legislative counsel for California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who is on the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy, the Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus and the IP Caucus; and Philip Tahtakran, legislative director and counsel for California Rep. Adam Schiff, who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, and co-chair of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, and on the IP Caucus).

Geneva is an important place, with a lot going on. There is the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Intellectual Property Organiation (WIPO), and lots more. There are also plenty of civil society groups who follow IP negotiations, such as our organization, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), MSF, Oxfam, Third World Network, IQSensato, etc.

So who did the Obama administration schedule to meet with the Congressional staff?

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA, now headed by former US official Alicia Greenidge); and law firm Sidley Austin, which also represented the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America at the meeting. Finally, they attended a roundtable on "How to Shape a Positive Agenda on IP" with General Electric (GE), Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IFPMA. GE was represented by Thaddeus Burns, senior corporate counsel and former US IP attaché in Geneva, BSA by Francisco Mingorance, director of public policy Europe, and IFPMA by Greenidge.

People at the USPTO have been telling me that Obama will be continuing the George Bush policies on intellectual property rights. So far, it is hard to argue otherwise.