San Diego, Calif. - U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Jon Dudas and U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (CA-49) today warned members of California's small business community that they are increasingly at risk of overseas intellectual property theft-even if they do not export. Both Under Secretary Dudas and Representative Issa urged America's small businesses to consider protective action.
In remarks before the "Conference on the Global Intellectual Property Marketplace," sponsored by the Commerce Department's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Dudas and Issa emphasized the importance to businesses of obtaining intellectual property protection both in the United States and overseas. Dudas noted that California alone has about 1.1 million small businesses employing 7.8 million residents.
"In 2004, California exported almost $110 billion in products. The top four destinations for California's exports are Mexico, Japan, Canada and China. Piracy and counterfeiting around the world are on the rise, and intellectual property-based companies-and those with widely recognized names or products-are especially vulnerable to intellectual property theft abroad," Dudas said. "The goal of this seminar here in San Diego is to arm 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 San Diego 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 San Diego, 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; Phoenix; Austin, Texas; and Miami.
The San Diego seminar represents one of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's many efforts to educate small businesses about intellectual property protection. The USPTO also has a website 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 seminars and website are part of a much larger USPTO and federal government effort. The Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (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 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.
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.