Archive for the ‘Intellectual Property’ Category

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Helping Small Business Owners Identify their Vital Intellectual Property

August 20, 2018

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

This post originally appeared on the Minority Business Development Blog.

Rachel S. Salzman is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of Intellectual Property Rights in the Industry & Analysis Bureau of the International Trade Administration

Benjamin N. Hardman is an Attorney-Advisor with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on detail with the Office of Intellectual Property Rights in the Industry & Analysis Bureau of the International Trade Administration

Intellectual 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. We know that IP is how the U.S. economy will continue to grow, and that protection both at home and abroad is critical for our industries to flourish worldwide.Photo of professionals working together.

As part of the Department of Commerce’s overarching commitment to helping the American economy grow, commerce agencies, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, International Trade Administration (ITA), and Minority Business Development Agency:

  • Work with stakeholders to increase the effectiveness of the U.S. IP system domestically and abroad;
  • Provide U.S. stakeholders with information and training on best practices to protect and enforce intellectual property; and
  • Provide minority businesses with information on intellectual property protection.

The International Trade Administration’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights (OIPR), Industry & Analysis, is committed to educating U.S. business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, including minority-owned businesses, about protecting IP at home and in foreign markets. We work to make sure that when U.S. businesses export or otherwise work with foreign partners and suppliers, they know how to do so in a way that protects innovative technology and keeps American intellectual property safe and secure.

The cornerstone of OIPR’s educational outreach is the signature STOPfakes Roadshow program. Roadshows are interagency programs led by OIPR and coordinated in partnership with local U.S. Export Assistance Centers that bring IP experts from across U.S. agencies to cities around the country to help educate small and medium-sized enterprises about protecting their intellectual property. Roadshow participants hear from representatives of agencies including ITA, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, the Small Business Administration, and the Copyright Office, with other partners, including MBDA, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Naval Sea Systems Command participating at select locations. In addition, participants can apply onsite for trademark and copyright recordation with CBP and to register their copyrights with the Copyright Office. Agencies have experts onsite to provide personalized assistance. Finally, each Roadshow concludes with the opportunity for one-on-one consultations with agency representatives. N 2018, ITA relaunched the STOPfakes Roadshow program with Roadshows in Seattle and Portland on July 24 and July 26. The next events will be in Dallas on August 21 and in Austin on August 23. A full schedule of upcoming Roadshows, along with agendas and further information about speakers is available at http://www.stopfakes.gov/roadshows.

In addition to the STOPfakes Roadshows, OIPR makes a wide variety of educational material available on www.STOPfakes.gov to assist U.S. entrepreneurs in understanding the ins and outs of IP protection. Materials include industry toolkits, country IP Snapshots, and in-depth country toolkits, in addition to webinars and an online diagnostic module to help small business owners identify their vital IP and think about a business plan for protecting it. You can also follow us on Twitter @STOPfakesGov to get the latest information on events and online resources.

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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!

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United States Becomes First Economy to Offer Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Privacy Trustmark to Data Processors

December 29, 2017

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Michael Rose is a Policy Advisor in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Digital Services Industries

The United States is the first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economy to join the APEC Privacy Recognition for Processors (PRP) System, which offers a trustmark certification to personal information processors (processors) in the region. By improving transparency and trust in contracting relationships, PRP certification allows your business to showcase its commitment to consumer privacy protections, and facilitate partnerships with multinational companies in the digital economy.

To obtain PRP certification, your business must first confirm that its data privacy policies and practices comply with the PRP System’s baseline security and accountability standards for data protection. To verify compliance, an APEC-recognized auditor, known as an Accountability Agent, will review your security policies and practices, and may request additional information on relevant contractual obligations. You will also be required to demonstrate to the Accountability Agent what measures you have in place to hold your business accountable to those consumers and partners whose information you process. In many respects, the PRP certification process is comparable to that administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce for the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks.

Additional APEC economies, including Singapore and the Philippines, have already expressed interest in joining the PRP system in the coming year. Expanded implementation of the PRP System across the APEC region will help U.S. companies in evaluating whether prospective international business partners are committed to effective consumer privacy protections.

The 21 APEC member economies adopted the PRP System for data processors in 2015, as a corollary to the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) System for data controllers. Together, the PRP and CBPR Systems cover the entire data ecosystem—strengthening consumer privacy protections and trust across the Asia Pacific region, while facilitating trade by minimizing barriers to the cross-border flow of information.

The CBPR and PRP Systems are both voluntary but enforceable. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has primary responsibility for enforcing a company’s PRP certification and public attestations, and for bringing enforcement actions for false claims of certification.

The International Trade Administration’s Office of Digital Services Industries in the Industry and Analysis unit leads U.S. Government efforts to implement and expand the APEC CBPR and PRP Systems. We invite you to direct any feedback or questions to Michael Rose.

 

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Exporters: Protect Your Innovations!

March 21, 2016

Mary Lynn Landgraf is a Senior International Trade Specialist with ITA’s Office of Textiles and Apparel

Exporters and future exporters, take heed: your most valuable business asset is your intellectual property (IP), which includes everything from the devices you invent to the logos and brand names you use in marketing your products.  In today’s global marketplace, protecting your IP is a critical component of ensuring future growth in sales, particularly for companies exhibiting at trade shows such as the upcoming Hannover Messe Trade Show.

stopfakes.gov

stopfakes.gov

Here are four easy-to-navigate websites that any company can use before venturing overseas to ensure that valuable IP resources are protected.

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers an IP Awareness Assessment tool that helps businesses understand their current level of protection and export readiness, and how an intellectual property strategy may work best for them based on their individual needs.
  • USPTO is also working to launch a national pro bono network with regional bar associations and attorneys to help under-resourced inventors navigate the patent system.
  • USPTO offers an online toolkit for companies that need help understanding patent litigation.
  • STOPfakes) gathers information on numerous U.S. government IP initiatives to improve intellectual property protection and enforcement for U.S. companies in markets around the globe. Of particular note is the Business Tools section, which provides exporters with country-specific information on how to register and protect their patents and trademarks.

For those companies planning to exhibit in Hannover or at any other German trade show, our colleagues in Germany have put together a wonderful page highlighting several additional resources to help you protect your IP.

The above resources will help you to protect your innovations and market your products safely at home and overseas.  I encourage you to visit these websites today – it’s never too soon to take action in protecting your most valuable assets!

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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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UNITED STATES, APEC Economies Endorse Privacy Recognition in Support of Processors in Global Data Value Chain

October 26, 2015

Michael Rose is Policy Advisor in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Digital Services Industries 

At the recent Senior Officials Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the Philippines, the United States spearheaded the effort to draft and endorse the governing documents necessary to operationalize the APEC Privacy Recognition for Processors (PRP) system.  The success of this effort has led to the creation of a second system in APEC to certify the corporate privacy programs of data processors and allow for data transfers between APEC economies.  The PRP System was designed to help data processors demonstrate their ability to provide effective implementation of a personal information controller’s privacy obligations and to help controllers identify qualified and accountable processors.

The PRP was conceived as a companion to the existing APEC Cross-border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system, which provides a means for data controllers to transfer personal data across participating APEC economies in a manner in which individuals may trust that the privacy of their information is protected.  The CBPR system was endorsed by President Obama and other APEC leaders in November 2011, and held out as a model for facilitating global interoperability of privacy frameworks in the President’s 2012 Privacy Blueprint.  As a participant in the CBPR system, the United States has worked with a team of experts from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and New Zealand to support the creation of the PRP system to expand the benefits of the digital value chain to data processors in the APEC region.

The 21 member economies of APEC endorsed the CBPR and PRP systems as a means of strengthening consumer privacy protections and trust across the Asia Pacific region while facilitating trade by minimizing barriers to the cross-border flow of information.

Both the APEC CBPR & PRP systems are voluntary but enforceable systems which promote a set of mutually recognized data privacy practices for companies doing business in participating APEC economies.  With the endorsement of the PRP, the total global value chain of the digital economy is supported by for a system of robust privacy rules that enables the cross-border data flows necessary for global trade.

While economies consider taking the necessary steps to join the PRP system, businesses and potential Accountability Agents can learn more by reviewing all relevant documentation and requirements at CBPRs.org.

ITA is excited to be leading this work on behalf of the Department of Commerce and is looking forward to encouraging additional countries and companies to join both the CBRP and PRP systems.  This is cutting edge work that could lead to a system that will help all stakeholders further strengthen privacy protection and increase trade and economic growth throughout the APEC region.  For additional questions about these initiatives, please contact Michael Rose at Michael.Rose@trade.gov

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

April 20, 2015

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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.