Archive for the ‘Intellectual Property’ Category

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From the Experts: A Playbook for Mitigating Cyber Risk to Your Corporate Networks As You Grow Your International Presence

February 4, 2016

Murat Muftari is an International Trade Specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service in Eastern Michigan

Newsflash: If your company has a virtual presence then you’re automatically exposed to more cyber intrusions. And if your company is based in the U.S. and has an international footprint, the target on your company’s back is likely bigger than your non-U.S. competitors – a testament to American innovation.

Cyber Security

The majority of cyber intruders enter corporate networks through e-mails or web browsers – two systems accessed constantly by most employees.

Every day, cyber criminals around the globe gain access to proprietary information like product design specifications, supply chain details, negotiation strategies, intellectual property, and background on joint ventures and other partner agreements. These cyber intrusions result in tangible costs: according to the Ponemon Institute and IBM, in 2015 the average annual cost of a data breach was $3.8 million per company. Today’s 21st century business opportunities are inextricably linked to 21st century risk.

In January, the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturer’s Association and the U.S. Commercial Service East Michigan, gathered a panel of legal, cyber, and law enforcement experts to discuss their recommendations for avoiding cybersecurity risks as you grow your business.

According to Quinn Kuzmich at MainNerve, a cybersecurity services firm, you can choose to do three things with this risk: mitigate it, transfer it, and accept it. Companies must balance the priorities of reducing their vulnerabilities to cyberattacks, while being cognizant of risks they may be accepting at the same time.

The experts at the event presented a few cornerstones on which to build a successful corporate “cyber protection plan”:

  • An educated workforce
    • The majority of cyber intruders enter corporate networks through e-mails or web browsers – two systems accessed constantly by most employees. That reality means training your employees can be the most effective tactic in mitigating the vulnerability of your company’s intellectual property housed on your corporate networks. The more your employees can identify and avoid phishing attacks, spearing attempts, and malicious websites, the safer your corporate networks (and the proprietary information they safeguard) will be.
  • A skeptical IT security team
    • You have a problem if your IT security team says your corporate networks are safe. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), 69 percent of cyber intrusions are detected by a third party, meaning internal IT security teams are often not the ones finding vulnerabilities in their own networks. “Once hackers gain access to a network, their goal is to remain undetected as long as possible while elevating their level of access to sensitive information,” says Tom Winterhalter, Supervisory Special Agent with Detroit’s FBI office.

According to Kuzmich, a proactive IT security team is always skeptical of the safety of their own systems. They should perform regular penetration tests to find opportunities that cybercriminals see themselves. The team should bring up vulnerabilities, new threats, and concerns in meetings to the point that they sound like a broken record. If your IT security team fits that bill, they are much more likely to find cyber intrusions on their own networks and won’t be afraid to report them immediately.

  • Relationships with the right partners
    • Stories emerge daily about the latest firm with egg on their face, detailing how sensitive customer data or proprietary corporate information ended up in the hands of bad actors. Let’s face it: reporting a cyber intrusion to authorities can be embarrassing. However, the sooner you inform law enforcement of suspicious activity on your corporate networks, the quicker they can spring into action.

      “Being up front with law enforcement as soon as possible after you’ve found a breach can protect your assets, your intellectual property, and your employees,” according to Kuzmich. Alerting authorities doesn’t mean your story goes public – they have good reasons to keep the details confidential. The Cyber Crimes Unit at the Detroit FBI keeps their case information secret to limit the possibility that more cyber criminals will adopt previously effective tactics.

      If you have concerns your intellectual property was compromised in a cyber attack originating from overseas, the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) is another enforcement agency in your corner. The USPTO’s intellectual property experts embedded in many foreign countries go to bat for U.S. firms whose IP is compromised, even through cyber means.

With just one click of the mouse or a stroke of a key, cyber criminals can send your company reeling. Stopping every cyber attack against your firm is not likely an attainable goal; however, there are steps you can take to mitigate and transfer the risk associated with today’s connected world.

If you start with a network of educated employees, a team of ever-questioning IT professionals, and a collection of key partnerships, you’ll be on your way to better protecting your company’s proprietary information housed across your network. And in an ever-increasing globalized and knowledge based world, learning to proactively manage those risks will leave your company primed to take advantage of the 21st century opportunities that exist in the global marketplace.

 

 

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San Diego/Tijuana Mega-Region Drives and Expands Bilateral Trade

April 20, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

John Andersen is the International Trade Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere.

Last week, I traveled to San Diego and Tijuana to meet with companies on both sides of the border and learn about the dynamic coproduction in the U.S.-Mexico border region. More than $1.5 billion in trade crosses the U.S.-Mexico border every day and much of that value is generated in the largest metropolis between San Diego and Tijuana.

While in Tijuana I toured the Welch Allyn plant, a medical device manufacturing facility that sources more than 85 percent of its inputs from the United States. The company, which is headquartered in upstate New York, selected its Baja California location to be close to its largest consumer market, North America.

While in Mexico, I also met with the dynamic binational Smart Border Coalition, a group that works diligently to improve efficiencies along the various border crossings between California and Baja California. In our discussion, we talked about how we could work together better to hasten the development of important cross-border land ports of entry, including the Xpress Airport facility that will provide U.S. citizens with direct access to the Tijuana International Airport; the proposed Otay Mesa East crossing, which will double commercial vehicle crossing capacity in San Diego County; and reactivation of the desert railroad line that will allow regional manufacturers to export their heavy manufactured goods at a lower cost. The U.S. Department of Commerce will help facilitate these projects within the U.S. government border management process, and binationally with Mexico, to increase border capacity at new and existing ports of entry.

After returning to San Diego via the San Ysidro port of entry, the busiest land border of entry in the world, I met with several U.S. companies based in San Diego County to understand and address their export concerns. One of the companies I spoke with at length, Taylor Guitars,   successfully exports their products to several markets overseas.

Taylor Guitars shared that they have recently been battling counterfeit products imported from China. I explained that one of the Obama administration’s top priorities is to expand free trade agreements, which will establish common standards and protections for U.S. companies. Free trade agreements, not only reduce trade barriers, allowing U.S. products to enter foreign markets at lower prices, but they also ensure that U.S. companies have recourse to combat corrupt practices of competitors and provide protections for intellectual property rights for U.S. companies.

The administration is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which will link the United States with growing markets in Latin America and Asia. It is estimated that in the next two decades, nearly 50 percent of the world’s economic growth will come from the Asia-Pacific region, yielding almost one billion new middle-class consumers.

The businesses I spoke with in San Diego were supportive of the administration’s goal to expand U.S. free trade agreements and understood the importance of Trade Promotion Authority which will allow the executive branch to secure the best trade deals possible for U.S. companies. The companies expressed their hope that TPP would enable them to expand their exports into the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region and help them to better protect their intellectual property.

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U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

December 11, 2014

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Picture of the capitolFrank Underwood doesn’t understand the purpose of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

Maybe you know of Frank Underwood, the main character on the show House of Cards, played by Kevin Spacey. If so, you may remember how he conspired with colleagues in the White House and State Department to orchestrate a trade war with China.

How did he do it? Through the JCCT negotiations.

While Mr. Underwood is commonly known in the United States, it’s much less likely that the average American knows what the JCCT is, aside from it being some way for a fictional administration to create tension with a major U.S. international partner.

Though it isn’t a household term, the importance of the JCCT can’t be overlooked. While Mr. Underwood used the JCCT to start a trade war, the reality is that the United States and China use it to support trade peace – resolving bilateral tensions and exploring areas of mutual cooperation.

The United States and China established the JCCT in 1983 as the primary forum for addressing trade and investment issues, and promoting commercial opportunities between the two countries.

The JCCT has since resulted in significant progress on issues U.S. businesses have identified as priority concerns in China, including:

  • protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights;
  • government procurement;
  • standards, testing, and certifications; and
  • issues specific to certain sectors like information technology, energy, and travel and tourism.

Improving American businesses’ ability to compete on a level playing field in China through the JCCT and other bilateral engagements has contributed to growth of U.S. exports and business activity in China’s market, supporting the American economy and job growth. It has also helped drive important reform in China’s economy, supporting innovation and growth there as well.

The next round of high-level JCCT Meetings are in Chicago this month and we’re looking forward to using this opportunity to address bilateral trade concerns and deepen positive economic engagement between our governments and commercial sectors.

Why does JCCT matter to the average U.S. citizen?

  • China is our second largest trading partner. U.S. total exports to China have nearly tripled since 2005, reaching $122 billion in 2013.
  • U.S. goods & services exports to China support nearly 796,000 U.S. jobs.
  • Continued growth in China’s middle class will create even more promising export opportunities for U.S. companies.
  • To continue with Mr. Underwood’s example, China is now the top goods export market for his home state of South Carolina. The state’s goods exports to China reached $4.9 billion in 2013, which is nearly eight times greater than in 2005.

Lastly, not to quibble with the House of Cards writers, the show makes one important error: the Secretary of State was in charge of the JCCT discussions, and provided guidance to the U.S. team of negotiators.

In fact, that team would have been led by the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative. Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Froman will lead the U.S. delegation and be joined by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. The Chinese delegation will be led by Vice Premier Wang Yang.

While we have yet to see those officials portrayed in the show, we look forward to seeing them play prominent roles in upcoming seasons…

More importantly, we look forward to the 25th JCCT this month, and to seeing the continued positive effects these important meetings have on the U.S. and Chinese economies and our commercial relationship.

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Five Tips for Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Global Business

April 23, 2014

Ken Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Orlando Export Assistance Center.

You spent the time and money to build your business, including the development of products and services (patents, trade secrets and copyrights), business methods (trade secrets), brands (trademarks and service marks), and your presence on the Internet (trademarks and associated domain names, copyrights). Why wouldn’t you protect these Intellectual Property (IP) assets from unauthorized use?

Stopfakes.gov is your portal to resources for protecting intellectual property.Many small businesses are at a disadvantage in not having the expertise or resources to prevent theft of their intellectual property in the global marketplace. So in recognition of World IP Day on April 26, here are some simple, practical measures that any exporter can take to protect their IP assets:

  1. Conduct an IP audit. An IP audit will document the assets that you own, the assets that you may be acquiring, and how you’re using other people’s IP. It should support your export marketing plan, as an IP audit allows you to make business decisions about which assets to protect in each market. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; and it’s something that you can do yourself.
  2. Own your business… all of it! If you allow your foreign business partner to register your IP, in most foreign countries, they become the “right holder.” You need to register your own IP assets and record trademark and copyright registrations (and in some countries, design patents) with the customs administration to block the import and export of infringing items.
  3. Know your partners. Your local U.S. Export Assistance Center can help you to qualify existing or potential foreign business partners. Include provisions in your contracts that require the use of original and unaltered products and preclude the partners’ registration of your IP.
  4. Monitor the use of your IP. Plan to visit the market regularly; and use track-and-trace technology like RFID or bar codes to make it easier to audit products and spot fakes. Monitor domain names, e-commerce and auction platforms; and use Internet search engines – including image search – to find infringing products online. Include the obligation to report instances of infringement in your contracts with foreign business partners; and train business partners to spot fakes.
  5. Have an enforcement strategy. Make it part of your export marketing plan to know the administrative and legal relief available to you to enforce your Intellectual Property Rights in each export market. STOPfakes.gov offers country toolkits for select markets. You can also obtain country-specific information from U.S. embassies by contacting your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

There is no substitute for qualified legal counsel. However, there is a lot that you can do yourself to get started. For more information, please visit www.STOPfakes.gov and the Inventors Resources Center from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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STOPfakes.gov Road Shows Bring U.S. Government Tools and Assistance to You

September 26, 2012

Andrea Cornwell is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of Intellectual Property Rights (OIPR) within the Market Access and Compliance unit of the International Trade Administration. Raquel Cohen, also an International Trade Specialist in OIPR, coordinated the STOPfakes.gov Road Shows.

Hello from Chicago, where I just wrapped up our most recent stop on ITA’s STOPFakes.gov Road Shows tour.  The Road Shows have been a hit across the U.S. After a whirlwind tour to eight cities, my colleagues and I have met with hundreds of U.S. companies, educating them on how to protect and enforce their intellectual property rights (IPR) in the U.S. and in foreign markets.  At each Road Show, our team of experts covered the basics—how to protect your company’s patents, trademarks, and copyrights—and advised on protection for online content and useful law enforcement resources to seize counterfeit products.   We also offered free one-on-one consultations for U.S. companies at the end of each session.

My colleagues and I have enjoyed getting to meet U.S. exporters across the country, and have appreciated hearing first-hand about the challenges they face with respect to protecting and enforcing their IPR.  During my time in Chicago, some common questions that companies have asked include:

If you weren’t able to join us at one of our Road Shows, don’t worry – you haven’t missed your chance to ask your questions!  We’re always ready to help U.S. companies with IPR-related issues, and can be reached through the contact page on our one-stop IPR portal, STOPfakes.gov.

And don’t forget, the STOPfakes.gov Road Show has one more stop in Oklahoma City on September 28.  For more information about our final stop, please contact Ashley Wilson at ashley.wilson@trade.gov.

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National Trademark Expo to Return to D.C. Area in October

September 19, 2012

Andrea Cornwell is an International Trade Specialist with the Office of Intellectual Property Rights in the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit.

The 2012 National Trademark Expo will return to the D.C. area on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20. Hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at its Alexandria, Virginia headquarters, the free, two-day event will inform the public about trademarks and their importance in the global marketplace.  The Expo is a great opportunity to learn about anti-counterfeiting efforts; shape, sound and color trademarks; and the evolution and history of trademarks.  The International Trade Administration’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights will have its own booth at the event and will be on hand to answer questions about exporting trademarked goods and protecting your trademarks outside of the United States.  Don’t forget to stop by our booth and say hello!

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host the 2012 National Trademark Expo on October 19th and October 20, 2012.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host the 2012 National Trademark Expo on October 19th and October 20, 2012.

Around forty other exhibitors – including nationally and internationally recognized brands like Mattel, NASCAR, Hershey, and Under Armour, as well as government agencies and non-profit groups like NASA, the Department of Energy, the Army and Air Force, and the American Red Cross – will showcase their federally-registered trademarks through educational exhibits, including booths, themed displays and costumed characters.  The Expo will feature activities for visitors of all ages: individuals and representatives of small and medium-sized businesses can attend information sessions to learn how to search the federal trademark database or apply online for a U.S. trademark, and children can participate in workshops and other activities designed just for them.  Last year’s Trademark Expo attracted more than 15,000 visitors.  Join us this year to learn how trademarks can be used to develop and strengthen your or your business’s unique brand.  We hope to see you there!

The 2012 National Trademark Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, October 19 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 20 at 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia.  The USPTO campus is a five-minute walk from the King Street Station Metrorail, which serves the blue and yellow lines. Off-street parking in the USPTO’s two parking garages on the east and west sides of the campus will also be available.

Trademark Fun Facts! 

For more information on the 2012 National Trademark Expo, please visit www.uspto.gov/trademarks/notices/tmexpo2012.jsp.

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The Secret Is Out! Learn More About the Value of Trade Secrets to the U.S. Economy

September 5, 2012

Christine Peterson is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of Intellectual Property Rights within the Market Access and Compliance unit of the International Trade Administration

When I was in law school, I took all the intellectual property (IP) law and international trade law courses I could cram into my busy schedule.  Unfortunately, everything I learned about trade secrets I learned in two days of an introductory IP course.

But, if you think that the number of trade secret law courses out there was an accurate reflection of the importance of trade secrets to U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy, think again. Many companies rely on trade secret protection for their innovations.

Odds are you even have some products protected by trade secrets in your own home—like the Coca-Cola recipe or the compound used in WD40 or OLED display technology in a Samsung television.

Legal protection for certain business confidential information has existed in the United States since the nineteenth century, but has often been overshadowed by the more well-known forms of intellectual property—patent, trademark, and copyright.

Trade secret theft is an increasingly important issue for U.S. businesses and, as a result, the U.S. government is doing more to make sure that American innovators are not at a disadvantage in foreign markets due to inadequate trade secret protection.

I used the following resources to educate myself and would highly recommend them to U.S. businesses and others that are interested in learning more about trade secrets.

These and other federal government resources can help you understand the importance of protecting business proprietary information to ensure that U.S. companies stay globally competitive.

ITA’s trade specialists stand ready to assemble teams of U.S. Government experts to assist U.S. companies to enforce their trade secrets and other forms of IPR in foreign markets. We can suggest strategies to evaluate IPR problems encountered abroad and will work with you to resolve problems. You can report trade barriers at STOPfakes.gov/contact.

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