Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership
Friday Dec 29, 2017

IP Attachés - Providing Resources to Texas Businesses

Guest blog by Director of the Texas Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office Hope Shimabuku

During the week of December 4, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel through the Dallas area with several of the USPTO’s intellectual property (IP) attachés, who came here from their international posts in Brazil, China, Kuwait, Mexico, and Thailand to conduct outreach visits to local businesses and stakeholders. These included the Dallas Bar Association and several local Dallas businesses with an interest in learning about our efforts to protect and enforce IP rights abroad through the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program. Outreach activities such as this are conducted by the attachés several times a year. The last one was in Southern California this past October.

A highlight of the week came on December 5, when the attachés gave a half-day presentation on the IP Attaché Program to members of the Dallas Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Section at the association’s headquarters, the Belo Mansion. During the course of the program, the attendees—many of whom were unfamiliar with the IP Attaché Program—heard from the visiting attachés about how their expertise has helped U.S. businesses already operating in, or considering entering, foreign markets to better navigate IP issues. They also heard some real-life examples from the attachés’ case files.

IP attaches at the Dallas Bar Association

IP attachés at the Dallas Bar Association’s headquarters  

For example, the IP attaché in Shanghai, Mike Mangelson, recounted how he provided information to a U.S. shoe manufacturer that helped it to enforce its IP rights against local counterfeiters. The situation was successfully resolved when a raid conducted by Chinese authorities resulted in the seizure of more than 1,000 pairs of counterfeit shoes. Another example came from the USPTO’s IP attaché in Kuwait City, Pete Mehravari, who related how introductions made to a senior Kuwaiti Customs official and Kuwait’s Criminal Investigations Department on behalf of a U.S. entertainment company led to the successful resolution of an important trademark enforcement issue.

“Such real-life examples,” notes Dominic Keating, the IP Attaché Program’s director, “demonstrate how the USPTO’s IP attachés are helping U.S. companies improve their understanding—and avoid the pitfalls—of foreign laws, regulations, and court systems and thereby better protect and enforce their IP rights overseas.”

The IP attachés also provided some valuable best practices for IP protection and enforcement in their respective regions. These included filing trademark applications early in China to avoid trademark squatters in this first-to-file jurisdiction. Other recommendations included considering the creation of a multilayered IP portfolio in key markets, consulting with competent IP counsel, and working closely with your IP attaché.
I also joined the IP attachés in visiting and touring the headquarters of several other major U.S. stakeholders the Dallas area during the week. Our visits included Bell Helicopter, Texas Instruments, AT&T, Flowserve, and Mary Kay.

It was during our visit to Mary Kay—a Texas-based company that sells hundreds of products in approximately 40 countries—that a senior representative shared with us that the attachés possess “a wealth of knowledge” that should be fully utilized to assist U.S. businesses abroad. It’s a sentiment that I couldn’t agree with more.

If you would like to learn more about the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program—and see first-hand the “wealth of knowledge” that these dedicated professionals use to advocate on behalf of U.S. business interests—I urge you the visit the IP Attaché Program page of the USPTO website.

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