Chicago, Ill. - U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Stephen Pinkos today warned over 100 Chicago businessmen and women that they are at risk of overseas intellectual property theft-even if they do not export. In remarks before the conference on "Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights in China and the Global Marketplace," sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Pinkos emphasized the importance to businesses of obtaining intellectual property protection both in the United States and overseas.
"Theft of intellectual property worldwide is rampant, costing American's their jobs and robbing U.S. businesses of approximately $250 billion annually," Pinkos said. "China was the number one source of counterfeit products seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in 2005, accounting for 69 percent of all seizures last year, or almost $64 million in products. We recognize that China has expanded efforts to protect intellectual property rights, but there are still critical deficiencies in protection and enforcement. The goal of this seminar is to help you make the best decision for your company regarding China."
This seminar is the latest in a series the USPTO is hosting across the country to help educate American businesses about the realities of piracy and counterfeiting. During the two-day seminar in Chicago, intellectual property experts are providing comprehensive information on protecting and enforcing intellectual property in China for companies of any size, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises. 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 Chicago 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 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also 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.