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Nashville, Tenn. - United States Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Stephen Pinkos today warned members of Tennessee's small business community that they are at risk of overseas intellectual property theft-even if they do not export. Deputy Under Secretary Pinkos urged America's small businesses to consider protective action.
In remarks before the "Conference on Intellectual Property in the Global Marketplace," sponsored by the Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Pinkos emphasized the importance to businesses of obtaining intellectual property protection both in the United States and overseas. Pinkos noted that in 2004, more than 470,000 businesses (or 97 percent of all businesses) in Tennessee were small businesses, employing more than 45 percent of the non-farm private workforce in the state. And Tennessee's exports are significant. The total value of Tennessee's exports last year exceeded $19 billion, an increase of 18 percent over the previous year.
"Fighting piracy and counterfeiting around the world is a Bush administration priority," Pinkos said. "Intellectual property theft worldwide costs American companies $250 billion a year and-by extension-hurts American workers and their families." The goal of our seminar in Nashville is giving small businesses the information they need to protect their intellectual property assets in the U.S. and around the world."
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.
This 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 one-day seminar in Nashville, intellectual property experts from the USPTO and other government agencies provided attendees with details and useful tips about protecting and enforcing their intellectual property rights in the United States and around the world.
The Nashville seminar represents one of the USPTO'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 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.