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How to Protect and Enforce Your Intellectual Property Rights in Foreign Markets – Part 2

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How to Protect and Enforce Your Intellectual Property Rights in Foreign Markets – Part 2

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 5, 2011 Updated: March 2, 2014

This article is part two in a two-part series in which Susan Wilson, director of the Office of Intellectual Property Rights of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration shares tips and tools for protecting and enforcing your intellectual property rights in foreign markets (read Part 1 here).

You’ve worked hard to develop your products and services and to grow your small business, and you feel the time may be right to enter the international marketplace. But now you realize there is another step before you jump into exporting: how will you protect your intellectual property rights in these foreign markets, and who can help you?

How the Department of Commerce Can Help

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable when it comes to piracy and counterfeiting, but there are numerous tools and resources developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce that can help small businesses protect and enforce their intellectual property rights in the U.S. and abroad. 

As Susan Wilson explains, “We like to focus on a couple of stages. First, of course, you have to understand intellectual property rights are private rights. They are privately owned… so it is really up to the owner of the… rights to make sure their rights are registered and that they are making smart business decision … and are picking smart, trustworthy distributors, and manufacturers.

So, when it comes to protecting your intellectual property, the first line of defense is you. There are, however, many government-sponsored tools and resources that can help small business owners learn how to protect your intellectual property at home and in foreign markets:

1. Educate Yourself about Intellectual Property with Online Training – This online training program – Understanding Intellectual Property Rights – helps small business owners understand what intellectual property is, what it can do for you, and how to go about obtaining protection for your trademarks, patents, and copyrights. The training, hosted at Stopfakes.gov, is completely free of charge and is available in English, Spanish, and French.

2. Get Specific Information for Small Businesses – Visit www.stopfakes.gov/smallbusiness operated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for information on what type of intellectual property protection to apply for, as well as when, where, and how to apply.

3. Educate Yourself about intellectual property in Your Target Market with “Country Toolkits” –Once you understand intellectual property, you next need to consider which markets your want to go into and what challenges you might face in those markets. How do you secure your rights in those markets? To answer these questions, the Department of Commerce has developed “Country Toolkits.” Once again, these are hosted on Stopfakes.gov (see the left hand navigation bar) and provide links to U.S. government resources hosted on various embassy websites and explain the process is for obtaining protection in that market.

4. How to File a Complaint – If you wish to file a complaint about intellectual property protection abroad, visit http://www.stopfakes.gov/contactus.asp. If your small business is presented with an issue overseas and is struggling in a particular market due to trademark or copyright infringement, the Office of Intellectual Property Rights will assemble a team of trade specialists and intellectual property experts to investigate and help.

For more information about whether your intellectual property rights apply globally and what to consider when expanding into global trade, read part one in this blog series: How to Protect and Enforce Your Intellectual Property Rights in Foreign Markets – Part 1.

Useful Links

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

Its best to educate yourself on these issues before real damage is done. Thanks for posting an article about this issue. Raising awareness will help others in the future protect their best assests. Josh Dannan
There are a lot of great resources in this post. I'm going to save this page on my favorites list, because it seems I have been having an issue with intellectual property theft since expanding my buisiness online. Shannon HEPA Air Purifier
With the huge theft on the internet now-a-days, there should be an easier solution.
This article resonates with me. I personally had intellectual property stolen from me, and trust me, it's a serious situation. I agree, you really do need to educate yourself or hire a high prices lawyer to help. My husband and I took care of our own battle. Janice.W Appraisal Management Company
I agree Ralph! How far is this going to continue on? I just blogged about this last week. Jamie
"Small businesses are particularly vulnerable when it comes to piracy and counterfeiting, but there are numerous tools and resources developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce that can help small businesses protect and enforce their intellectual property rights in the U.S. and abroad." My boss at the chiropractic office here has some offshore business affairs he was telling me about and was just talking about this yesterday and how glad he is for such measures to be in place. Talk about deja vu! http://eyeonjesus.com
This is great. We are seeing an upsurge of foreign companies ripping off paid content and posting it for PPC sites. This has really hurt conversion in our major income site dmvCramCourses
In many countries, your IP has absolutely zero protection, because eventhough there may be IP laws, there is absolutely no enforcement of those laws. Assurance Wireless application Getting anything done in these countries requires some really heavy lifting. I don't there are any authentic CDs or DVDs sold in the Southeast Asian country I currently live in. Free Government cell phones
I agree, it's very important to educate yourself. Like Caron pointed out, "the first line of defense is you", and really, who doesn't love to learn? I've personally gone through this; the battles of someone stealing my intellectual property from my blog. You really do need to educate yourself and follow the outline Caron mentioned in her post. Katie
i like this :) This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.

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