TLJ News from October 26-31, 2011

People and Appointments

Eric Hirschhorn10/31. The Senate belatedly confirmed Eric Hirschhorn to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration. See, Congressional Record, October 31, 2011, at Page S6929. Although, President Obama gave him a recess appointment on March 27, 2010. See, White House news office release. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson stated in a release on November 1 that "Eric's experience and drive will be critical to this administration's efforts to reform America's Cold War-era export control laws, strengthening U.S. national security and increasing the competitiveness of U.S. companies."

10/31. The Senate confirmed Stephen Higginson to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit by a vote of 88-0. See, Roll Call No. 188.

10/31. President Obama withdrew the nomination of Charles Day to be a Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. See, Congressional Record, October 31, 2011, at Page S6929, and White House news office release. The President made this nomination on January 5, 2011.

Congressional Leaders Write USTR Regarding Russia Joining WTO

10/29. Leaders of the House and Senate Committees with jurisdiction over trade sent a letter to Ron Kirk, the US Trade Representative, about ongoing negotiations regarding Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Chairman and ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Dave Camp (D-MI) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), the Chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, expressed concerns about Russia's protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), and Russia's commitment to join the WTO's 1996 Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

The WTO issued a release regarding the ITA on October 24, 2011. It stated, among other things, that "The Russian Federation said that as part of its accession to the WTO, it was committed to duty-free treatment for products covered by the ITA. To encourage the IT industry in Russia, it intends to fully join the ITA".

The four Congressional leaders wrote that "Intellectual property is critical to U.S. industry and jobs. We believe it is vitally important for potential members of the WTO to demonstrate that they are not only willing to agree to strong protection of intellectual property, but that they also possess the will and the ability to enforce these rights. Unfortunately, Russia's standard of IPR protection has fallen short of these standards."

They also stated that they are "deeply concerned about recent reports questioning Russia's commitment to join the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), a commitment the United States negotiated with Russia as part of the bilateral agreement we reached in 2006."

They explained that "The ITA is one of the most successful WTO agreements, providing duty free treatment to a vast array of information and communications technology (ICT) products, with tremendous benefits to the innovative U.S. high tech sector as well as the many U.S. industries that use ICT to enhance their productivity and competitiveness at home and abroad. The United States has consistently pursued a policy of requiring both new WTO candidates and free trade agreement partners to join the ITA."

The four also reminded USTR Kirk that both the House and Senate "must vote to remove Russia from Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 before the United States can expect to enjoy the full benefits of Russian membership in the WTO. A high standard accession package will be essential to ensuring support for granting Russia permanent normal trade relations by removing it from Title IV."

More News

10/26. The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) that announces that the Advanced Media Workflow Association, Inc. filed a notification of a change in its membership, pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993, which pertains to limiting antitrust liability of standard setting consortia. See, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 207, Wednesday, October 26, 2011, at Page 66324.

Go to News from October 21-25, 2011.