The following article appears on my lodeplus.com DC City Buzz pages at http://lodeplus.com/city-buzz-in-washington-dc/the-dead-do-talk-review
An audio version appears on the Korat Post website.
When I read over the 2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, I expected to see a couple of items that might alarm taxpayers. But one that struck me first was the one under Section 1106 of the Act titled, Protection of Intellectual Property Rights. I had worked an an editor for a premier law firm in Thailand that has won international recognition for property rights protection in Thailand…and perhaps because of this, read over the cited section.
I learned that Uncle Sam is charging you and I to the tune of $1 million a year for what the US Patent and Trademark Office calls an IPR attaché. The agency started the intellectual property attaché program back in 2006 to “promote high standards of IP protection and enforcement internationally for the benefit of U.S. economic and political interests abroad.” We should keep in mind at this point that Bill Gates has tens of billions of dollars to his name and he is ostensibly the most prominent person imaginable who has a personal interest in intellectual property promotion. Just what Microsoft is doing to fund its own global IRP protection needs to be explained. Bill/Microsoft can afford the $30 million a year a lot more than increasingly beleaguered taxpayers.
That is only one aspect of the issue of mini-czars administering one agency or effort after another in seemingly innocent-sounding endeavors but which cost an arm and a leg to maintain. The other aspect of the issue is why service organizations, or individuals outsourced, can’t fulfill the need instead of a State Department or other government employee, or even better, why US corporations with vested interests, can’t either assign additional personnel to the geographical areas concerned or directly fund such endeavors. Imagine Microsoft paying for enforcing intellectual property rights in Thailand rather than just you and I!
Of course copyright and trademark concerns do not cover just computer applications There are also books, movies, other media and property that is originally created but which has been illegally copied. But even so it seems that the industries concerned – whether publication, software, inventing, entertainment, defense, etc. – could easily fund the $1 million a year for each attaché needed. And if their management is really up to snuff, it is a near certainty that the annual expenditure would be more likely in the low six figures rather than in the millions.
Microsoft, are you listening?
Speaking of which…
Microsoft, on the Yahoo finance page http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=MSFT+Profile financials link reveals mid-year over the last three years an average of $62 billion income. This is with Microsoft CEO earning a mere $1.38 million. On the publishing industry side, take Newscorp – it has been in the news quite a lot lately. Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s annual salary is close to $21 million. Newscorp employs around 51,000 and has a capitalization in excess of $40 billion. So just between these two giants in industries very close to the heart of an intellectual property attaché, why can’t they – Corporate America – fund this post instead of we taxpayers?