The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) engages in intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement capacity building domestically and across the globe. It also participates actively in international IP enforcement policy discussions.
The USPTO develops and delivers IPR enforcement training and capacity building programs to government officials across all global regions. Capacity building programs are tailored to address specific aspects of IPR enforcement, such as civil and criminal investigations, prosecutions, border enforcement, and the role of the courts. The USPTO also provides technical assistance to foreign governments on issues related to the enforcement of IPR.
The USPTO also participates actively in a broad range of international IPR enforcement policy discussions. For example, it participates in the World Intellectual Property Organization's Advisory Committee on Enforcement (WIPO/ACE), a multilateral forum for the exchange of information and best practices among member states concerning the enforcement of IPR. Through its participation, the USPTO supports WIPO's efforts in facilitating enforcement efforts, including technical assistance and awareness raising initiatives.
Annual Special 301 report
Each year, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) publishes the Special 301 report. This is a congressionally-mandated report, issued pursuant to section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, that assesses the state of IPR enforcement and protection in markets throughout the world and identifies specific countries that fail to adequately protect the interests of U.S. rights holders.
The USPTO contributes to the Special 301 review process through its participation in the USTR’s Trade Policy Review Group and its Trade Policy Staff Committee.
The USPTO facilitates forums, symposiums, and discussions on a variety of pressing issues related to the more effective enforcement of criminal and civil IPR enforcement. The engagements employ the experiences and expertise of the entire breadth of the IPR enforcement ecosystem, including federal law enforcement and policy experts, state and local criminal enforcement entities, academia, and the private sector.
Among these have been discussions on brand protection and anti-counterfeiting strategies, and a symposium on intellectual property and trade shows, to discuss the challenges of protecting IP in the trade show context.
The USPTO also tracks and facilitates discussions on effective public awareness efforts in countering the demand for products that violate the IPR of rights holders. This has included a roundtable on IP and consumer behaviors, which discussed successful efforts to publicize the importance of purchasing genuine products.
The USPTO has also tracked developments in technology as they relate to IPR enforcement, including studying the potential effects that artificial intelligence may have on creating more effective IPR enforcement tools and the challenges presented by criminal actors who might use these same tools to more efficiently distribute counterfeit and pirated materials.
The USPTO occupies a unique position to facilitate contact, cooperation, and information exchange among local, state, and federal law enforcement entities. It maintains robust partnerships with state and local law enforcement associations, and regularly provides its intellectual property enforcement expertise to members of the National Association of Attorneys General, which was founded to help attorneys general fulfill, among other things, the consumer protection responsibilities of their offices. Similarly, the USPTO provides support and intellectual property enforcement expertise to members of the National District Attorneys Association, which supports prosecutors’ efforts to protect the rights and safety of people.
“Go for Real” anti-counterfeiting initiative
The USPTO, in partnership with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), launched the “Go for Real” public awareness campaign in June 2020. The campaign aims to educate young consumers, their parents, and educators regarding the dangers of counterfeit goods. The campaign reaches audiences across the United States and the world through social media, radio advertisements, billboards, electronic educational materials, and resources provided to the USPTO's IP attachés.