Long Beach, Calif. - Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Jon Dudas, together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, today educated California business leaders about the value of intellectual property-based products and services to California's economy and its export business, and how that value is being threatened by intellectual property theft. Under Secretary Dudas urged businesses to support free trade agreements as the best means the U.S. government has to help protect their intellectual property and stop counterfeiting and piracy. Four free trade agreements are now pending in Congress-Peru, Colombia, Panama, and Korea.
In a seminar held today in Long Beach as part of the U.S. Chamber's Los Angeles Counterfeiting and Piracy Awareness Week, Under Secretary Dudas noted, "Intellectual property theft costs U.S. businesses more than $250 billion each year. Among the most powerful tools the U.S. government has to strengthen intellectual property rights around the world are free trade agreements, which give other countries a powerful incentive to raise their standards of intellectual property protection and enforcement."
Under Secretary Dudas continued, "Free trade adds significant revenue to United States companies of all sizes and helps them protect their IP assets. The Bush administration has implemented 11 free trade agreements so far, and we need Congress to pass the pending agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama, and Korea."
Californians are particularly vulnerable to IP theft because of their significant holdings in intellectual property. California is the number one state in patents filed and issued in the country. It also ranks first in patents for independent inventors per capita. California continues to be the nation's leading high-tech state, according to the American Electronics Association.
California business leaders also heard from representatives of the U.S. Chamber's Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Initiative, the Department of Justice, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and local law enforcement, as well intellectual property experts from businesses including Adidas, North Face, Accenture, and others.
As part of a larger initiative by President George Bush called Strategy Organized Piracy (STOP), the USPTO has conducted more than 20 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 Long Beach is the fifth in this year's series, with upcoming stops to include San Antonio; Portland, Ore.; and Denver.
While counterfeiting and piracy pose a serious threat to all American businesses, small- to medium-sized businesses are particularly at risk because they may be unfamiliar with these issues and lack the expertise and resources to combat them, meaning theft of their intellectual property can go undetected. The Long Beach seminar represents one of the USPTO's many efforts to educate these businesses about IP protection. The USPTO also has a website specifically for small- to medium-sized businesses that provides information on the risks of counterfeiting and piracy and illustrates how these 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 STOP initiative combats 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.