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- U.S. Export Position Improves as National Export Initiative Marks One Year
- Answering the Call to Double U.S. Exports
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New Web Portal Helps Companies Protect Intellectual Property Rights
A new Web-based portal developed by the Department of Commerce and the European Union was unveiled this past December. By bringing together a vast array of information, it will help U.S. companies better protect their intellectual property rights worldwide.
by John Ward
Enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR) abroad is not a task for the faint hearted. Copyright, trademark, and patent regimes vary immensely from country to country, and centralized sources of reliable information are either hard to come by or beyond the reach of the limited budgets of typical small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Because of these challenges, the Department of Commerce recently cooperated with the European Union (EU) to produce the TransAtlantic IPR portal, a unique Web-based tool that was unveiled on December 17, 2010.
The portal was developed by the Market Access and Compliance unit of the International Trade Administration (ITA), in collaboration with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry. Its initial release includes 17 country-specific IPR toolkits; links to the IPR sites of more than 32 countries; the full text of 25 IPR enforcement reports compiled by the EU; and a special section devoted to IPR-related issues that exporters often face in China, including the EU’s China IPR Helpdesk.
“This portal reflects the latest in a sustained effort to address the unique needs of U.S. SMEs doing business overseas,” said Michael Camuñez, ITA’s assistant secretary for market access and compliance. “SMEs can be disproportionately affected by the costs of overcoming barriers to trade, especially in a critical area like protecting their intellectual property.”
A Costly Problem
Intellectual property is a significant element of the U.S. economy. It is especially important in knowledge-based and creative sectors, such as software; electronic equipment; entertainment (movies, music, and television); pharmaceuticals; clothing, fashion, and design; and auto equipment. In 2007, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, the value added to the U.S. economy by core copyright industries was $889.1 billion, or approximately 6.4 percent of gross domestic product.
Unfortunately, the economic importance of intellectual property is matched by the growing prevalence of piracy, counterfeiting, and rights infringement that afflicts industries worldwide. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods grew during the past decade and now accounts for as much as $250 billion in sales, or nearly 2 percent of total world trade.
For More Information
To access the TransAtlantic IPR portal, visit the U.S. government's "Stop Fakes" page at www.stopfakes.gov and follow the link to the portal. Additional resources for companies looking for information and assistance in protecting their IPR are also located on that page, including Webinars, online tutorials, and publications. Assistance is also offered by telephone at 1-866-999-HALT (1-866-999-4258).
U.S. and EU Efforts
The U.S.–EU IPR Working Group developed the TransAtlantic IPR portal. Established in 2005, the working group includes representatives from ITA, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and several other federal agencies. It has focused its efforts in three areas: engagement on IPR issues with other countries that have lax enforcement records, customs cooperation, and public–private partnerships.
Aside from the working group, the U.S. government also has Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP!), which is a long-standing program designed to stop trade in pirated and counterfeit goods. It coordinates enforcement efforts with several federal agencies that are responsible for IPR enforcement and protection, including the Patent and Trademark Office, the Library of Congress, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Justice.
The TransAtlantic IPR portal will be an additional tool in those efforts. “Improved IPR protection and enforcement will result in greater employment prospects and economic growth,” noted Antonio Tajani, EU commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship. “Both the EU and [the United States] are committed to helping companies compete fairly on both sides of the Atlantic.”
John Ward is a writer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. Michael Rogers of the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit assisted with this report.
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