"This report provides background on intellectual property rights (IPR) and discusses the role of U.S. international trade policy in enhancing IPR protection and enforcement abroad. IPR are legal rights granted by governments to encourage innovation and creative output by ensuring that creators reap the benefits of their inventions or works, and they may take the form of patents, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, or geographical indications. U.S. industries that rely on IPR contribute significantly to U.S. economic growth, employment, and trade with other countries. Counterfeiting and piracy in other countries may result in the loss of billions of dollars of revenue for U.S. firms as well as the loss of U.S. jobs. Responsibility for developing IPR policy, engaging in IPR-related international negotiations, and enforcing IPR laws cuts across several different U.S. government agencies. Promoting the enforcement of IPR is an important component of U.S. international trade policy. Since the 1995 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) at the World Trade Organization (WTO), trade policy has been used to promote enforcement of IPR abroad. The United States and several trading partners have been negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which would surpass TRIPS Agreement commitments."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34292
United States Department of State, Foreign Press Center: http://fpc.state.gov/