Statement Of The Honorable Gerald J. Mossinghoff in Celebration of The 30th Anniversary of The Trilateral Agreement

August 2012

When President Reagan appointed me as the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks in 1981, I had a keen appreciation of the inherent international character of science and technology generally, and of the systems of law designed to encourage innovation.  The European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office were then, and are now, the three most important offices in the world. 

The Trilateral Agreement had two key goals:

  • First, to ensure that automation efforts by the three offices would be technically compatible; and
  • Secondly, to coordinate efforts toward more effective work sharing.

The Trilateral Agreement has achieved the first of the two goals, and is working effectively toward the second.  Our job now is to build upon our successes and move toward a truly universal form of patent protection for important inventions.  This will necessarily build upon the landmark TRIPS Agreement and upon the efforts of our IP5 partners, China and Korea.

In his prophetic work, The Wealth of Nations, the 18th Century economist and philosopher Adam Smith taught us that the wealth of nations consisted of Capital, Labor and Natural Resources.  Our generation has added a fourth constituent, namely Intellectual Property.  The Trilateral Agreement has been an important part of that development.  I am personally honored to have been able to play a role in the creation of the Trilateral Agreement 30 years ago.