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International Intellectual Property Day

April 26, 2018

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By Stevan Mitchell, Director, Office of Intellectual Property Rights, Industry and Analysis, International Trade Administration

Logo for stopfakes.gov websiteIntellectual property (IP) is a key commodity in U.S. trade.  Each year more than 50 percent of U.S. merchandise exports and more than 10 percent of total U.S. services exports come from IP intensive industries.  The United States has become the global leader in cutting edge sectors in part due to strong IP protection regimes. Our commitment to IP protection and enforcement is among the strongest in the world, as reflected in our trade relationships. We know that IP is how the U.S. economy will continue to grow, and that protection both at home and abroad are critical for our industries to flourish worldwide.

Although IP is a private right, government has an essential role to play in educating innovators and creators about its importance, how to obtain protection, and how to enforce against infringers. This is particularly the case when it comes to obtaining and enforcing IP in foreign markets. Although all WTO members must adhere to the minimum IP protections set out in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs), the specifics of IP protection vary widely by country. Even for U.S. businesses that do not export, foreign protection of IP is critical; businesses should always be registered in markets where they manufacture, in addition to markets where they sell their products.

The Office of Intellectual Property Rights at the International Trade Administration (ITA) takes seriously our mandate to educate U.S. business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), about protecting IP in foreign markets. To that end, today, in commemoration of World IP Day 2018, we are pleased to announce the publication of four new Country Toolkits on www.STOPfakes.gov to assist U.S. entrepreneurs in understanding the ins and outs of IP protections in four Southeast Asian markets: Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. ITA and the Department of Commerce would like to recognize the professionals whose efforts contributed to these toolkits, including Margaret (Maggie) Hanson-Muse and her regional team for envisioning and originating the project, and IP Attaché Peter Fowler for his guidance and expertise.

In addition to the new comprehensive toolkits, we are excited to announce the launch of a brand new series of Country Snapshots, available on the Toolkits page of www.STOPfakes.gov.  The Country Snapshots are a quick and easy way to learn the basics about how to protect IP in a foreign market. Each Snapshot identifies the agencies responsible for obtaining patents or trademarks and for registering copyright, and provides their contact information. The Snapshots also list the international agreements to which the country is a party, the legal framework for the protection of trade secrets, and identify whether the country is listed on the Special 301 Report (an annual report identifying markets with deficient IP protections).

This first tranche of Snapshots includes some of the world’s largest markets. Upcoming releases will include U.S. FTA partners and countries in the European Union. These Snapshots are a first stop for American entrepreneurs who are preparing to export or manufacture abroad. Combined with our national STOPFakes.gov Road Shows and other educational resources available on our site, we are providing our innovative industries with the information they need to take full advantage of export markets without putting at risk their valuable IP assets.

Our office is committed to partnering with ITA industry analysts to produce more industry-specific products. We have recently launched a series of Industry IP Toolkits, which identify for exporters of products and services those IP issues they should address early on in developing export strategies. We now have Industry Toolkits for exporters of building materials, medical devices and auto parts, and today we publish a new Industry Toolkit for pleasure boat exporters. 

We are also excited to announce the launch of @STOPfakesGov twitter account, to keep followers apprised of new events and publications, as well as tips and observations useful to protecting creative, innovative and branded assets.  Follow us!