Efforts Focus on Small Businesses, Particularly Those Investing In or Exporting to Latin America
Miami, Florida - U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Jon Dudas today warned an audience of South Florida small-businessmen and -women that they are increasingly at risk of overseas intellectual property theft -- even if they do not export -- and urged them to consider protective action.
In his remarks before the "Conference on the Global Intellectual Property Marketplace," sponsored by the Commerce Department's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Dudas cited Florida's export-dependant economy-particularly those small businesses that export to Latin America--as a major reason why businesses in the state should make intellectual property protection in the United States and overseas a priority business decision.
"More than 90 percent of Florida's exporters are small and medium-sized businesses. While trade allows these businesses to enter into new markets and grow their bottom lines, it also makes them especially vulnerable to intellectual property theft abroad," Dudas said. "The goal of this seminar and other efforts by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office here in Miami is to arm Florida's small businesses with the information they need to protect their intellectual property assets in the U.S. and anywhere around the world they conduct business."
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.
The Miami seminar is the latest in a series the USPTO is hosting across the country to help educate American small businesses about the realities of piracy and counterfeiting. During the two-day seminar in Miami, intellectual property experts from the agency are providing attendees with details and useful tips about protecting and enforcing their intellectual property rights in the United States and around the world. Previously, USPTO seminars were held in Salt Lake City, Utah; Phoenix, Arizona; and in Austin, Texas.
The Miami seminar represents one of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's many efforts to educate small businesses about intellectual property protection. Currently, the agency is conducting a nationwide awareness campaign that is providing information to small businesses about when to file for intellectual property protection, what type of protection to file for, where to file and how to go about it. The effort features outreach targeting industry sectors especially at risk of intellectual property theft, a Web site specifically designed to address the needs of small businesses, and informational materials informing small businesses about the problem and steps they can take to mitigate it. Materials and other information about the awareness campaign are available at www.stopfakes.gov/smallbusiness .
The campaign, in turn, is part of a much larger USPTO and federal government effort. The Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP!) initiative, also directed at small businesses, 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 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 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.
Since Miami is viewed by many to be America's gateway to Latin America, the USPTO also placed an intellectual property attorney in Miami, Florida earlier this month to serve as an on-the-ground expert in all facets of intellectual property protection and enforcement for Latin America. USPTO's legal expert will routinely meet with representatives from Latin American nations to advise them on intellectual property policy and provide technical training and guidance on understanding complex intellectual property issues.
For more information about the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's effort to educate American businesses about intellectual property rights, visit www.stopfakes.gov .
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