Burlington, Vt. - Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Margaret J.A. Peterlin, together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), today educated Vermont business people about the growing threats of counterfeiting and piracy and encouraged them to make protecting their intellectual property an integral part of their business plan.
In a seminar held today at the University of Vermont, Deputy Under Secretary Peterlin underscored that Vermont's economy is being driven by businesses based on intellectual property, but that these companies are increasingly at risk for counterfeiting and piracy. "Intellectual property theft costs American companies more than $250 billion per year and has resulted in the loss of at least 750,000 jobs. This theft has also created health and safety issues for consumers. No matter what metric you use, there's either damage or loss. Here in Vermont and across the United States, it's critical that industry and government work together to address this growing problem."
Vermont business leaders also heard from representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Initiative, the U.S. Department of Justice, and leaders from Vermont businesses including IBM, Burton Snowboards, Hubbardton Forge, SB Electronics, and others.
Over the past two years, the USPTO has conducted seminars around the country to educate businesses on how they can protect themselves against counterfeiting and piracy. This year, the agency is working with the U.S. Chamber for a multi-city educational tour. Today's seminar in Vermont is the fourth in the series. Upcoming stops include Long Beach, Calif.; San Antonio; Portland, Ore.; and Denver.
While counterfeiting and piracy pose a serious threat to all American businesses, small businesses are particularly at risk because they may lack the knowledge and personnel to combat it, and theft of their intellectual property overseas can go undetected.
The Burlington seminar represents one of the USPTO's many efforts to educate small businesses about IP protection. The USPTO also has a website specifically 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 initiative by President George Bush called 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.