Raleigh, N.C. - The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has joined forces with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a multi-city educational tour designed to raise awareness about the threats of counterfeiting and piracy, while offering information on how businesses can mitigate these threats by protecting their intellectual property (IP). The tour kicked off today in Raleigh, N.C., and upcoming stops include Detroit on June 18; San Antonio on July 18; and Seattle on August 10. Other stops on the tour will include Portland, Ore., and Burlington, Vt., as well as additional markets later this year.
"Since 2005, the USPTO has conducted seminars around the country to educate businesses about the importance of IP protection as critical measure in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy," said Jon Dudas, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. "This year, we are proud to team with the U.S. Chamber to continue this mission, and believe that by working together, we can help disseminate this information to the widest possible audience."
Raleigh business leaders and government and law enforcement officials gathered today for the forum which included presentations from the office of North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall who has been an aggressive leader in fighting counterfeiting and piracy and representatives from NASCAR, Underwriters Laboratories, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice, Abercrombie & Fitch, and the Brand Protection Alliance.
While counterfeiting and piracy pose a serious threat to all American businesses, small businesses are particularly at risk because they often lack the knowledge and expertise to effectively combat it. Because small businesses typically do not have personnel or maintain large operations in other countries, theft of their intellectual property overseas can go undetected.
Under Secretary Dudas noted that small businesses make up 98 percent of all employer firms in North Carolina and employ 1.6 million people. In addition, last year, North Carolina exported more than $21 billion worth of products. "Our goal of having this seminar in Raleigh is to arm local businesses and particularly small businesses with information they need to protect their IP assets both in the U.S. and abroad."
The Raleigh seminar represents one of the USPTO's many efforts to educate small businesses about IP protection. The USPTO also has a website specifically designed for small businesses that provides information on the risks of counterfeiting and piracy and illustrates how small businesses can mitigate those risks by making IP protection a priority. Materials and other information about the awareness campaign are available at www.stopfakes.gov/smallbusiness.
The seminars and website are part of a much larger USPTO and federal government effort known as the Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP). The STOP initiative aims to combat criminal networks that traffic in fakes, stop trade in pirated and counterfeit goods at America's borders and help small businesses secure and enforce their rights in overseas markets. As part of the initiative, the USPTO maintains a toll-free telephone hotline, 1-866-999-HALT, that helps businesses leverage the resources of the U.S. government to protect their intellectual property rights.
For more information about the U.S. government's efforts to educate American businesses about intellectual property rights, visit www.stopfakes.gov.