ITA’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights (OIPR) not only monitors the implementation of bilateral and multilateral intellectual property trade agreements worldwide, but also assists small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in protecting their intellectual property rights (IPR) in the United States and abroad. To do so, OIPR regularly works with MAC country desk officers, USEACs and FCS officers to accomplish the following:
- Identify IPR-related trade barriers
- Raise industry concerns regarding IPR regulation and enforcement with U.S. trading partners
- Counsel American companies on trading partners’ IPR obligations under trade agreements to which the United States is a party
Additionally, OIPR has effectively undertaken numerous initiatives to educate SMEs about the importance of protecting their IPR domestically and abroad, and has developed a number of U.S. government (USG) resources to assist them. This year, for example, OIPR has showcased valuable IPR protection and enforcement information for SMEs on Export.gov; led training sessions for IPR attachés, commercial officers and economic officers; coordinated webinars on country-specific IPR challenges and resources; and briefed companies on current industry-specific IPR issues.
There are several great resources that SMEs and USG alike will find useful in understanding and supporting IPR protection and enforcement worldwide:
Web Site and Hotline: The Department of Commerce (DOC) launched www.StopFakes.gov to provide updates and links to the new STOP! anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting programs. The site allows businesses to file complaints about IPR-related trade problems, which an OIPR trade specialist answers within ten days. DOC also established the STOP! hotline at 866-999-HALT (toll-free), answered by IPR experts at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). These experts work with OIPR to help businesses secure and enforce their IPR through international treaties.
Country IPR Toolkits: OIPR, PTO and U.S. embassies have developed country toolkits—posted on embassy Web sites and on www.StopFakes.gov—that contain detailed information on protecting IPR in Brazil, Brunei, China, Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, Italy, Peru, Russia and Taiwan. To expand the program, OIPR is working with PTO, the State Department and software developers to create a toolkit template, for broader dissemination and to encourage more U.S. embassies to collect and post similar information.
Online SME IPR Training Tutorial: With the help of PTO, the Small Business Administration and the Foreign Commercial Service, OIPR has developed an online training program to teach SMEs to evaluate, protect and enforce their IPR. The free tutorial, called Understanding Intellectual Property Rights, is open to the public.
For assistance on any IPR-related topic, including those discussed above, please feel free to contact Susan Wilson; director; Susan.Wilson@mail.doc.gov.