President Joe Biden this week nominated Christopher Wilson to be Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The position has not been filled since its creation in 2015.
Wilson has been with the USTR for two decades, serving as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Innovation and Intellectual Property (2006-2008) and several Assistant U.S. Trade Representative positions. He currently serves as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, South and Central Asia.
The Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator position was created in 2015 as part of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The functions of the position include “to conduct trade negotiations and to enforce trade agreements relating to United States intellectual property and to take appropriate actions to address acts, policies, and practices of foreign governments that have a significant adverse impact on the value of United States innovation.”
Wilson will report to Biden nominee Katherine Tai, who was sworn in as USTR Ambassador in March 2021.
In April of this year, Senators Patrick Leahy and Thom Tillis sent a letter to Biden asking him to prioritize appointment of IP officials in the Executive Branch. Of course, the top IP position—Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office—has yet to be filled, and there are still no indications a nominee will be named anytime soon, despite unconfirmed rumors.
Tai said that “Wilson’s experience shaping trade policy for more than two decades in a variety of critical regional and policy leadership roles at USTR makes him uniquely qualified to fill this important new position as the Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator.”
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Senior Vice President, International Policy, George York, issued the following statement in response to the announcement of Wilson’s nomination:
President Biden’s announcement is especially welcome since this statutorily mandated position has not been filled since it was created in 2015…. Chris is deeply knowledgeable on trade and intellectual property rights issues, and brings an unmatched wealth of experience in critical regions from Europe and the Middle East, to Latin America and Central Asia. He is a much welcome addition to USTR’s Innovation and Intellectual Property Office that is already extremely strong and has always been an incredible champion of American creators and their contributions to US jobs and growth through US trade policy engagement. This is vital work in one of our most important sectors in terms of high-quality well-paying jobs, economic growth, exports, and cultural impact – the US creative community alone supplies the US economy with 5.7 million jobs, $1.5 trillion in economic growth, and over $218 billion in foreign sales each year.