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Tuesday Jul 02, 2019

For U.S. businesses, the USPTO’s IP attachés are there to help

Guest blog by Shira Perlmutter, Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs at the USPTO

I recently had the pleasure of joining five of the USPTO’s IP attachés at a series of meetings with U.S. innovators and stakeholders, including the annual meeting of the International Trademark Association (INTA) in Boston.

The IP attachés are intellectual property (IP) experts posted to U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world. They meet with government officials to explain U.S. perspectives and policies and advocate for improvements to IP systems. They also provide training on effective IP enforcement, monitor IP-related developments, and conduct programs to educate the public on the value and importance of IP. This work is ever more important in an increasingly global marketplace.

IP attaches meet with New England Inventors Association

A group of the USPTO’s IP attachés meet with members of the New England Inventors Association in North Andover, Massachusetts. The meeting was part of the IP Attaché Program’s outreach activities in the Philadelphia and Boston areas this past May.

At least once a year, the attachés return to the United States to meet with American innovators and businesses, learn about their IP-related concerns, and share information about IP developments in their regions. This spring, their destinations were Boston and Philadelphia.

IP legal counsel Luciano Marchione, based in Brussels, speaks with member of the New England Inventors Association

IP legal counsel Luciano Marchione, who is based in Brussels, Belgium, as part of the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program, speaks with a member of the Inventors Association of New England in North Andover, Massachusetts. He joined a group of several IP attachés to conduct meetings with stakeholders in the Boston and Philadelphia areas this past May.

In Boston, in addition to INTA, the IP attachés met with members of the Inventors Association of New England (IANE), one of the nation’s oldest inventor clubs. The group expressed appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the IP attachés and learn about how to protect their IP in foreign jurisdictions. “As independent inventors and entrepreneurs, our members often feel like it’s ‘you against the world.’ ” said George Peters of the IANE, the co-inventor and founder of KettlePizza,® a cooking accessory that can convert an outdoor grill into a pizza oven. “It’s an incredible feeling to know that the IP attachés are in our corner. They place very high value on the independent inventor, work to promote our interests and are available as a resource to answer questions about foreign markets.”

IP Attaches visit KettlePizza in Boston

L to R: IP specialist Komal Kahla and IP attachés Duncan Willson and Laura Hammel speak with KettlePizza co-founder George Peters during their meeting with members of the New England Inventors Association in North Andover, Massachusetts. The meeting was part of the IP Attaché Program’s outreach activities in the Philadelphia and Boston areas this past May.

Business accelerators and incubator programs have been established in many areas of the country to help innovators and start-up companies overcome early-stage growth obstacles. In Philadelphia, the IP attachés visited one such establishment, the University City Science Center, a nonprofit business accelerator in the life sciences field. They also met with representatives of several larger, established companies.

In all of these meetings, a common theme presented itself — that while there is worldwide demand for products of American innovation, foreign demand brings additional risks. The IP systems of other countries can be quite different from our own. And even if a business currently manufactures or sells its product only in the United States, it is important to have a plan to protect its IP rights not only at home but abroad.

That is where the USPTO’s IP attachés can be a valuable resource. They can assist U.S. stakeholders who are experiencing problems with IP rights abroad or who are considering entering a foreign market. And they are effective advocates in their respective regions for policies and laws that benefit U.S. businesses.

Learn more about the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program, including where the attachés are based and how to contact them.

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