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Intellectual Property Guide

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What is Intellectual Property?

Source: http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/


Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

Intellectual property is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks, Trade Secrets ...

Source: http://www.ipmall.fplc.edu/

Focus on: Intellectual Property Rights

Source: http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/intelprp/

WHAT IS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY?


Intellectual property symbols in the United States: copyright (©), registered trademark (®), and trademark (TM). (Geoff Brigthling/Getty Images)

Why do countries such as the United States, Japan, and The Netherlands protect inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, images, names, and designs used in commerce: the information and original expressions of creative individuals known as intellectual property (IP)? They do so because they know safeguarding these property rights fosters economic growth, provides incentives for technological innovation, and attracts investment that will create new jobs and opportunities for all their citizens. The World Bank's Global Economic Prospects Report for 2002 confirmed the growing importance of intellectual property for today's globalized economies, finding that "across the range of income levels, intellectual property rights (IPR) are associated with greater trade and foreign direct investment flows, which in turn translate into faster rates of economic growth."

In the United States alone, for example, studies in the past decade have estimated that over 50 percent of U.S. exports now depend on some form of intellectual property protection, compared to less then 10 percent 50 years ago.

Intellectually or artistically gifted people have the right to prevent the unauthorized use or sale of their creations, just the same as owners of physical property, such as cars, buildings, and stores. Yet, compared to makers of chairs, refrigerators, and other tangible goods, people whose work is essentially intangible face more difficulties in earning a living if their claim to their creations is not respected. Artists, authors, inventors, and others unable to rely on locks and fences to protect their work turn to IP rights to keep others from harvesting the fruits of their labor.

Beyond making it possible for innovators and artists to be compensated fairly and for countries to attract foreign investment and technology, intellectual property protection is critical to consumers. Most advances in transportation, communications, agriculture, and health care would not exist without strong IP support.

Increased recognition and support of intellectual property also has much to do with the rapidly rising standards of living in countries like China and India. Just a few years ago, India was losing the battle to retain the best and the brightest of its engineers and computer scientists. The lack of protection for their intellectual property was forcing those scientists and technicians to emigrate to countries where their hard work could be protected and kept safe from unfair exploitation by competitors seeking easy advantages. The Indian Parliament finally passed a law in 1999 to protect the intellectual creations of its computer scientists. The result: a burgeoning high-tech industry producing some of the world's most advanced software and employing thousands of workers who might otherwise have left India for more lucrative parts of the world.

KEY FORMS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The key forms of intellectual property are patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Because intellectual property shares many of the characteristics of real and personal property, associated rights permit intellectual property to be treated as an asset that can be bought, sold, licensed, or even given away at no cost. IP laws enable owners, inventors, and creators to protect their property from unauthorized uses.

Types of Intellectual Property

Copyright, Patents, Trade Secrets, Trademarks, Etc.

Source: http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/intelprp/

Copyright

Copyright is a legal term describing the economic rights given to creators of literary and artistic works, including the right to reproduce the work, to make copies, and to perform or display the work publicly. Copyrights offer essentially the only protection for music, films, novels, poems, architecture, and other works of cultural value. As artists and creators have developed new forms of expression, these categories have expanded to include them. Computer programs and sound recordings are now protected, too.

Copyrights also endure much longer than some other forms of IP. The Berne Convention, the 1886 international agreement under which signatory states recognize each other's copyrighted works, mandates that the period of copyright protection cover the life of the author plus 50 years. Under the Berne Convention, literary, artistic, and other qualifying works are protected by copyright as soon as they exist. No formal registration is needed to protect them in the countries party to that convention.

However, the Berne Convention permits copyright to be conditioned, as it is in the United States, upon a work having been created in fixed form. Also, many countries have national copyright centers to administer their copyright systems. In the United States, for example, the Constitution gives Congress the power to enact laws establishing a system of copyright, and this system is administered by the Library of Congress' Copyright Office.

The U.S. Copyright Office serves as a place where claims to copyright are registered and where documents relating to copyright may be recorded when the requirements of the U.S. copyright law are met. For all works, however -- even foreign ones -- prompt U.S. registration confers important remedial advantages at little cost.

Ready access to those remedies has spawned enormous U.S. entertainment industries. According to the 2004 edition of Copyright Industries in the U.S. Economy, by Stephen Siwek, the "core" U.S. copyright industries accounted for 6 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, or $626.2 billion, in 2002. The report defines "core" copyright industries as newspapers, book publishing, recording, music, periodicals, motion pictures, radio and TV broadcasts, and computer software. In the 2004 report, bookstores and newsstands were added to "core" industries.

Only an author or those deriving their rights through the author -- a publisher, for instance -- can rightfully claim copyright. Regardless of who holds them, however, rights are limited. In the United States, for example, strangers may reproduce a portion of works for purposes of scholarship, criticism, news reporting, or teaching. Similar "fair use" provisions exist in other countries, too. The scope of this exception is discussed in more detail in the article "What Is 'Fair Use'?"

Copyright protects arrangements of facts, but it does not cover newly collected facts as such. Moreover, copyright does not protect new ideas and processes; they may be protected, if at all, by patents.

Patents

One might say that a patent is a contract between society as a whole and an individual inventor. Under the terms of this social contract, the inventor is given the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, and selling a patented invention for a fixed period of time -- in most countries, for up to 20 years -- in return for the inventor's disclosing the details of the invention to the public.

Many products would not exist without patent protection, especially those that require substantial investments but, once sold, can be easily duplicated by competitors. At least since 1474, when first granted by the Republic of Venice, patent protection has encouraged the development and distribution of new technologies.

When patents are not available, technology is closely held. If inventors had to rely on secrecy to protect their inventions, much important but undisclosed information often would die with them.

Patents, however, are not easily obtained. Patent rights are granted not for vague ideas but for carefully tailored claims. To avoid protecting technology already available, or within easy reach of ordinary artisans, those claims are examined by experts. Because patent claims vary as much in value as the technologies they protect, applicants must negotiate claims of appropriate defensible scope. (Defensible scope means that applicants must be careful in setting the boundaries of what their invention consists of and what can be protected from infringement in their invention.) This often takes two or more years and is expensive.

Trade Secrets

Any information that may be used in the operation of a business and that is sufficiently valuable to afford an actual or potential economic advantage is considered a trade secret. Examples of trade secrets can be formulas for products, such as the formula for Coca-Cola; compilations of information that provide a business with a competitive advantage, such as a database listing customers; and even advertising strategies and distribution processes.

Unlike patents, trade secrets are protected for a theoretically unlimited period of time, and without any procedural formalities. Trade secrets, however, tend to escape, and protection is not free. Under the best of circumstances, firms must restrict access to premises and documents, educate key employees and government inspectors, and closely monitor publications and trade show presentations. Although secrecy is expensive to maintain, large companies rely heavily on it when patents are not available. The larger the company, the more it needs legal protection for its commercial secrets.

Companies that cannot rely on a country's courts to help preserve important secrets must rely on self-help. They may, for example, severely limit the number of people with access to competitively important information. More likely, information needed for critical operations will be shared only if adequate trade secret protection is available. If not, few, if any, local employees will be trained beyond the level necessary to perform essentially unskilled assembly tasks.

Trademarks

Trademarks are commercial source indicators, distinctive signs that identify certain goods or services produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise. In villages, cobblers' names used to serve that function. Trademarks are especially important when consumers and producers are far away from one another. Children ask for Barbie dolls, Lego building blocks, and Hot Wheels toy cars. Some adults dream of Ferrari automobiles, but more can afford to buy Toyota or Honda brands. These consumers need trademarks to seek or avoid the goods and services of particular firms.

Throughout most of the world, trademarks must be registered to be enforceable, and registrations must be renewed. Yet, while copyrights and patents eventually expire, names of companies that treat customers well become increasingly valuable over time. If trademark rights were to expire, consumers would be collectively harmed as much as owners. Imagine the confusion if unaffiliated firms could sell products under another company's trademark. And consider, for example, the dubious quality of counterfeit and fake drugs and their potential for causing great harm, if not death, to unsuspecting users.

Trademark protection is also widespread in sports, estimated to account for 2.5 percent of world trade. Much support for the Olympics, for example, derives not from copyrighted broadcasts, but from merchandising rights protected by trademarks.

At an earlier time, purchasers of products bearing the names or logos of famous sports teams or events would probably have assumed no connection, much less an endorsement of quality between the sports team and, say, the baseball cap bearing the team's symbol. Increasingly, however, consumers assume both. As early as 1993, U.S. baseball teams alone licensed uses of their trademarks on $2.5 billion in goods.

Other Forms of Intellectual Property

Within the basic forms of intellectual property, many variations and special kinds of protection are possible. Geographical indications, which identify a good as originating in a locality where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin, are an example. Some countries separately protect geographical indications for goods such as French cognac or Scotch whiskey. In the United States, geographical indications are protected with collective marks and certification marks. They are treated as a subset of trademarks to prevent consumer confusion, as well as to protect business interests. Similarly, in the United States, famous athletes and performers are able to license or to forbid fraudulent or misleading commercial uses of their names and images. Based on trademarks or related, still-developing rights of publicity, well-known figures often earn more from endorsements than from activities underlying their fame.

Also, the ornamental or aesthetic aspects of electrical appliances, chairs, and the like are protected in a variety of ways. Many industrial designs are protected in the United States, Japan, and South Korea as design patents. Other countries -- notably in Europe -- offer copyright-like protection. In the United States, works having purely aesthetic appeal, such as jewelry or patterns that may be applied to fabrics, are protected by copyright. Moreover, the United States offers two specific types of statutory protection for new plant varieties, as well as protection unique to boat hulls and computer chips. Designs that serve no purpose other than to indicate commercial source may be protected under trademark law.

EMERGING IP ISSUES: DOMAIN NAMES

Source: http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/intelprp/

The need for new forms of IP sometimes arises, and the assignment of Internet addresses has posed particularly difficult issues. Like telephone numbers, Internet addresses have the basic form "123.456.123." If that were the end of it, there would be no problem.

Because useful directories are so far unavailable, however, most addresses also have an alphanumeric form such as "BBC.uk", "BBC.com", or "yale.edu." The unique part of each ("BBC" or "Yale") is registered as a "domain name." Just as postal addresses indicate unique physical locations, domain names indicate unique locations in "cyberspace."

Various entities control the registration, renewal, and transfer of domain names, depending on the final portion of any alphanumeric address. Addresses ending with country codes "fr" or "uk" are subject to the laws of France and the United Kingdom, respectively. Those ending with "edu" are controlled, under agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce, by Educause, a non-profit U.S. organization. Those ending with "com" and a few other terms have a global reach. They are governed by rules established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), also under agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Because domain names often comprise celebrities' or companies' names, trademarks, and the like, few people regard them as merely addresses. In the early days of the Internet, individuals quick to understand this registered many ".com" domain names for sale at hefty premiums. For example, a tourist agency registered "Barcelona.com" as its domain name, a move denounced by the Spanish city of Barcelona, which went on to establish its superior claim to that domain name. Holders of domain names intending to suggest unauthorized affiliations were condemned as "cybersquatters." Procedures were soon established to prevent misleading registrations or have ownership transferred to others with superior claims of legitimacy.

Under the most favorable circumstances, however, time and money must be spent to have a domain name transferred. Also, many addresses may falsely suggest sponsorship by the same person or firm. Experience has shown that cancelling them is insufficient if others can then re-register. But maintaining registrations of possibly hundreds of spurious addresses is a major waste of money.

Such problems have been alleviated by imposing significant civil and criminal penalties on cybersquatters. Still, some remain beyond reach, and further measures will be needed to halt activities that often mislead computer users throughout the world.

Does Intellectual Property Matter?

Source: http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/intelprp/

IP MATTERS, VERY MUCH

Although the first international treaties protecting intellectual property rights -- the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works -- were reached in the 1880s, coordination across countries for IPR protection remained inadequate until recently.

Intellectual property rights were first included in the Uruguay Round negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), 1986-1993, with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). TRIPS requires signatories to make it easier for their citizens and others to obtain and enforce IP rights, although it does not deal with domain names as such.

TRIPS member countries should be aware that if their IP laws seem, on paper, to support innovation and protect IP, but in practice do not, they generate little besides cynicism. Conversely, cost-effective means to secure, transfer, and enforce IP rights boost cultural development and standards of living, as well as promote public health and safety.

Although effective IP enforcement serves important economic ends, it also promotes a variety of other common social goals. By providing the opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to recoup investments in research, enforcement of IP rights can help eliminate serious health risks. Besides encouraging the creation of new technologies, patent and trademark laws are useful as well to prevent serious, well-documented harm posed by counterfeit goods. For example, those who consciously palm off medical products under false labels are apt to be unconcerned about whether their goods are worthless or toxic to unsuspecting users.

Local cultures are also at stake. Works by local artists, authors, musicians, and others are often supported in ways that are relatively independent of the need for private risk capital. Yet, even when that is true, they are often displaced by the illegal sale of cheap or free music, movies, and books originating abroad, works that would cost far more if copyrights in such works were locally enforced.

People everywhere who are concerned about cultural growth and preservation, as well as improved health and economic wellbeing, should understand how IP protection serves those ends.


Professor Thomas G. Field Jr. helped launch the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire in 1973. He credits much of his general understanding of intellectual property to students who attend from abroad. The casebook, Introduction to Intellectual Property, is among his more recent publications. For more information, see: http://www.piercelaw.edu/tfield/tgf.htm.

 

How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?

Source: http://www.stopfakes.gov/sf_how.asp#q12a

How can I protect my business from intellectual property theft?

The first step in protecting your business from intellectual property (IP) theft is to protect your IP - both in the United States and in other countries where you do business and source products. Most IP rights are territorial, meaning, for example, a U.S. patent or trademark only provides protection in the United States. To receive IP protection in other countries, you need to apply for protection in those countries.

Companies should inventory their IP. Examine your business to see what might be eligible for a patent, trademark, copyright or trade secret status.

Once it is known what IP a company possesses, you can review your options for protecting that property, at home and abroad. Do some research into whether foreign export markets or sourcing locations have signed patent or trademark agreements with the United States. Find out if companies similar to yours have experienced IP problems abroad. Do your contracts with suppliers and other partners include specific IP clauses protecting your rights? Do you know your foreign business partners well?

Finally, do a cost/benefit analysis to determine which IP protection measures make sense for your business.

How should I protect my intellectual property?

Different types of intellectual property are protected by different means.

  • In the U.S., patents may be available to any person who "invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof." Patent protection must be sought by application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
  • Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Registration with the USPTO is not required, but does provide certain advantages.
  • Copyrights protect original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other works, both published and unpublished. In the United States, the U.S. Copyright Office handles copyright registration that, although not required for protection, does confer advantages.

Intellectual Property Rights - US Embassy Mexico City

Source: http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov/eng/IPR.html

Intellectual Property Rights

IPR Toolkit

IPR Toolkit


Ambassador's message

Overview of IPR Situation in Mexico

How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?

Source: http://www.stopfakes.gov/sf_how.asp#q12a

How do I register a U.S. trademark?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reviews trademark applications and determines whether an application meets the requirements for federal registration. For more information on filing for a trademark in the United States contact: (800) 786-9199 or (703) 308-4357 or www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm. To file with the USPTO electronically visit: www.uspto.gov/teas/index.html.

How do I check if a trademark is already registered?

You can search all registered trademarks free of charge on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). If your mark includes a design element, you will have to search it by using a design code. To locate the proper design code(s), please consult the Design Search Code Manual, which is available at www.uspto.gov/tmdb/dscm/index.html.

You may also conduct a trademark search by visiting the Trademark Public Search Library, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at Public Search Facility - Madison East, 1st Floor; 600 Dulany St.; Alexandria, VA 22313. Use of the Public Search Library is free to the public. You can also conduct a search at a Patent and Trademark Depository Library near you. For locations, please visit www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/ptdl/index.html.

Private trademark search firms will conduct searches for a fee. The USPTO cannot aid in the selection of a search firm. Search firms are often listed in the yellow page section of telephone directories under the heading "Trademark Search Services" or "Patent and Trademark Search Services."

Does a U.S. trademark registration protect a trademark in a foreign country?

No. Trademarks are territorial and must be filed in each country where protection is sought. However, if you are a qualified owner of a trademark application pending before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), or of a registration issued by the USPTO, you may seek registration in any of the countries that have joined the Madrid Protocol by filing a single application, called an "international application," with the International Bureau of the World Property Intellectual Organization (WIPO), through the USPTO. More information on filing an international application under the Madrid Protocol, visit the USPTO website.

To file with a specific country, check WIPO’s list of international trademark offices here: www.wipo.int/directory/en/urls.jsp.

Make sure to consider registering transliterations (representations of words in the corresponding characters of another alphabet) when making trademark decisions. For example, foreign entities may trademark the name of your company written in their alphabet to make a transliteration of you trademark that they then trademark for themselves.

How do I prevent someone else from using a trademark similar to mine in the U.S.?

There are several ways to prevent third parties from using your trademark. Depending on the factual situation, the Trademark Office may or may not be the proper forum. You should consider contacting an attorney, preferably one specializing in trademark law.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) examining attorneys do not consider trademark use dates when examining applications; however, the USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) does consider who is entitled to registration depending on who has superior use in commerce dates. If your dates are prior to the other party’s and you can prove it to the TTAB, you have the opportunity to do so - through opposition proceedings as well as through a petition to cancel the mark once it has registered. You may also file a trademark infringement action against the other applicant to get an injunction against them to stop their use of the mark. You would have to prove that you had superior rights to theirs. Trademark rights, under U.S. law, accrue through use of the mark in commerce and not through registration. A USPTO registration is an evidentiary presumption that the registrant is the owner and has the right to use the mark. However, that presumption can be rebutted in court by one who has prior use of the mark in commerce.

Local bar associations and the yellow pages usually have attorney listings broken down by specialties. Time can be of the essence. Information about proceedings before the TTAB is available at www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/ttab/tbmp/.

Where can I ask a question about a U.S. Trademark?

If you need answers to specific trademark questions or want to know more about trademarks in general, please contact the Trademark Assistance Center at (800) 786-9199 [or (571) 272-9250].

How do I register my patent?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reviews patent applications and determines whether an application meets the requirements for federal registration. For more information on filing for a patent in the United States contact: (800) 786-9199 or (703) 308-4357 or www.uspto.gov/web/patents/howtopat.htm. To file electronically with the USPTO visit: www.uspto.gov/ebc/efs/index.html.

Is my U.S. patent good in other countries?

Patents are territorial and must be filed in each country where protection is sought. For more information on how to apply for individual patents in a foreign country, contact the intellectual property office in that country directly. A list of contact information for most intellectual property offices worldwide can be found at www.wipo.int/news/en/links/addresses/ip/index.htm. The U.S. is a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which streamlines the process for U.S. inventors and businesses to file for patents in multiple countries. By filing one patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), U.S. applicants can concurrently seek protection in up to 127 countries as of September 26, 2005. For information about filing an international patent application under the PCT, visit the USPTO website: www.uspto.gov/go/pct/.

How do I check to see if a patent is already registered?

It is possible for you to conduct your own search. For an introduction to patent searching for the novice please refer to the patent search tutorial at the Richard W. McKinney Engineering Library, the University of Texas at Austin, which is available here. Although some of the instructions given there may be unique to the Austin library and the focus of this introduction is on the Cassis CD-ROM products, the fundamentals of patent searching remain the same for any location.

Conducting a thorough patent search is difficult, particularly for the novice. Patent searching is a learned skill. The best advice for the novice is to contact the nearest Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) and seek out search experts to help in setting up a search strategy. If you are in the Washington, D.C. area, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides public access to collections of patents, trademarks, and other documents at its search facilities located in Arlington, Virginia. List of PTDLs is available here and information on the Arlington search facilities is available here.

You may also wish to consider contacting an attorney specializing in patent law or a patent search firm. The USPTO cannot aid in the selection of an attorney or search firm. Local bar associations and the yellow pages usually have attorney listings broken down by specialties. Search firms are often listed in the yellow page section of telephone directories under the heading "Patent Search Services" or "Patent and Trademark Search Services."

Where can I ask a question about a U.S. patent?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Inventors Assistance Center (IAC) provides patent information and services to the public. The IAC is staffed by former Supervisory Patent Examiners and experienced Primary Examiners who answer general questions concerning patent examining policy and procedure. The IAC can be reached by telephone at 800-786-9199 or on the web.

To Report Counterfeit or Pirated Goods

  1. Imports
    1. U.S. Customs and Border Protection
      1. If you suspect counterfeit goods are being imported into the United States and wish to prevent the importation of the goods, you should report your suspicions to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol IPR Help Desk by telephone at (562) 980-3119 x252 or via email at ipr.helpdesk@dhs.gov.
    2. National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center
      1. If you suspect “criminal” violations of intellectual property rights as a result of counterfeit goods being imported in the United States, you may report your suspicions to the criminal investigators at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center via its website complaint form. View form.
    3. U.S. International Trade Commission Import Exclusion Order
      1. If you are experiencing a regular problem with infringing imports, you should consider filing an investigation pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1337 , known as a Section 337 investigation. Section 337 declares it unlawful to import items that infringe utility and design patents, as well as registered and common law trademarks, and registered copyrights. The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) (http://www.usitc.gov) will conduct an investigation and if it determines that the imports violate Section 337, it may issue an exclusion order barring the products at issue from entry into the United States, as well as a cease and desist order directing the violating parties to cease certain actions. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces the exclusion orders. USITC provides information on Section 337. Read more.
      2. USITC also has a Trade Remedy Assistance Office (TRAO) that provides information to small businesses concerning the remedies and benefits available under U.S. trade laws; and assists eligible small businesses in preparing and filing a Section 337 complaint. Information about the TRAO is available here or it can be reached by telephone at (800) 343-9822 or (202) 205-2200, or by facsimile at (202) 205-2139.
  2. Internet Sales
    1. If you suspect products for sale on the Internet are counterfeit or pirated, you can report your suspicions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center(IC3) via the Internet. An electronic complaint form is available here.
  3. Retail Sales
    1. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) (www.fbi.gov) investigates criminal counterfeiting, piracy, and other federal crimes. You can report suspicions concerning the manufacture or sale of counterfeit or pirated goods to the FBI by contacting your local FBI Office and asking to speak with the Duty Complaint Agent. To obtain contact information for your local FBI office, you can call (202) 324-3000 or visit the cybercrime website.

I suspect an item I purchased which claims to be “Made in the USA” really isn’t, where should I report this suspicion?

Citizens suspicious that merchandise which claims to be “Made in the USA” is not America-made or contains significant foreign parts or processing, should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by telephone at (877) 382-4357 or via its website. For more information on false “Made in the USA” claims, please visit the FTC website.

How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?
http://www.stopfakes.gov/sf_how.asp#q12a

Mexico

 
 

The U.S. Government has created an “IPR Toolkit”, which describes the intellectual property environment in Mexico and provides information about how to obtain and enforce intellectual property rights in Mexico.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the Special 301 Report, analyzing the situation in countries with inadequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. The 2005 Special 301 Report, issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, which summarizes significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports, including intellectual property rights barriers. The 2005 National Trade Estimate Report, also issued by USTR (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?
http://www.stopfakes.gov/sf_how.asp#q12a

Korea

 
 

The U.S. Government has created an “IPR Toolkit”, which describes the intellectual property environment in Korea and provides information about how to obtain and enforce intellectual property rights in Korea.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the Special 301 Report, analyzing the situation in countries with inadequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. The 2005 Special 301 Report, issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, which summarizes significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports, including intellectual property rights barriers. The 2005 National Trade Estimate Report, also issued by USTR (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

How can I find information on intellectual property in:

Brazil

 
 

The U.S. Government has issued a commercial guide to Brazil, which contains an overview of intellectual property regime in Brazil including information on protecting intellectual property rights in Brazil, the patent application process and enforcement of copyright violations.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the Special 301 Report, analyzing the situation in countries with inadequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. The 2005 Special 301 Report, issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, which summarizes significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports, including intellectual property rights barriers. The 2005 National Trade Estimate Report, also issued by USTR (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

China

 
 

The U.S. Government has created an “IPR Toolkit”, which describes the intellectual property environment in China and provides information about how to obtain and enforce intellectual property rights in China.

The China Trademark Office maintains authority over trademark registration and administrative enforcement of trademark rights.

The State Intellectual Property Office (China’s patent office) is responsible for granting patents.

The Quality Brands Protection Committee (QBPC), a private right holders organization, comprises more than 100 multinational companies in China that work cooperatively with the Chinese government to combat counterfeiting.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the Special 301 Report, analyzing the situation in countries with inadequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. The 2005 Special 301 Report, issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, which summarizes significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports, including intellectual property rights barriers. The 2005 National Trade Estimate Report, also issued by USTR (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

Europe

 
 

Information about how to protect intellectual property in Europe is available in the European Union (EU) International Market Insight Report, which was published by the U.S. Government. The report is available here.

The EU Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Helpdesk can provide information about obtaining and protecting intellectual property in the European Union. For more information about the Helpdesk, please visits its website.

The European Patent Office is responsible for granting patents. Its website can be found here.

The U.S Government issued an EU market research report highlighting some of the key differences between patent law in the United States and the European Union Member States, and examines the options available to U.S. companies looking to secure patent protection in the European Union. The report is available here.

The European Commission established a regional intellectual property rights project to support the economic development for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro through effective and adequate protection and enforcement of industrial and intellectual property rights in line with European and international obligations. Information on this project is available here.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the Special 301 Report, analyzing the situation in countries with inadequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. The 2005 Special 301 Report, issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, which summarizes significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports, including intellectual property rights barriers. The 2005 National Trade Estimate Report, also issued by USTR (www.ustr.gov), is available at here.

India

 
 

The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks is responsible for granting and administering patents and trademarks in India. The website for the Controller General is www.patentoffice.nic.in/.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the Special 301 Report, analyzing the situation in countries with inadequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. The 2005 Special 301 Report, issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) (www.ustr.gov), is available here.

The U.S. Government publishes an annual report, called the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, which summarizes significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports, including intellectual property rights barriers. The 2005 National Trade Estimate Report, also issued by USTR ( www.ustr.gov ), is available here.

How can I check the credentials of a potential foreign business partner?

The Department of Commerce Commercial Service provides a service, the International Company Profile Report, to help companies exporting U.S. goods and services evaluate potential foreign partners. You can contact the Commercial Service at the nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC). To locate the closest USEAC, please visit its website or call (800) 872-8723.

How can the U.S. Government assist me in obtaining and protecting my intellectual property rights?

The Department of Commerce and other U.S. federal agencies stand ready to assist U.S. businesses with registering and enforcing their intellectual property rights (IPR), both here in the U.S. and in international markets.

Obtaining and Protecting IPR Abroad:

You can contact the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Intellectual Property Rights (OIPR) for assistance in obtaining and protecting your intellectual property rights abroad. OIPR can help obtain information on the appropriate foreign IPR registering agencies and foreign IPR resources. OIPR can also provide guidance on other IPR-related issues to consider when exporting, such as conducting due diligence, working with legal counsel familiar with the laws of the country, and the utility in setting up strong contracts with foreign business partners.

OIPR can also assist you in developing an enforcement strategy. OIPR and Commerce’s country experts stand ready to work with U.S. firms to help them protect their intellectual property abroad. In many cases, OIPR can provide companies with information to aid in navigating a foreign government’s legal system, including lists of local investigative firms and attorneys, and share experiences and expertise in that country. However, the government cannot provide American companies with legal advice or advocate on a company's behalf when a matter is before a court or administrative agency. You can reach an OIPR trade specialist by telephone at (202) 482-1191 or ask a question.

In the event you have attempted to enforce your IPR through a foreign government’s legal system and the foreign government has failed to provide an adequate remedy, OIPR, in cooperation with its interagency colleagues, may be able to raise concerns related to the effective administration of legal remedies available to IPR holders with foreign government officials. Commerce’s efforts to assist with IPR disputes are aimed at achieving a fair and timely resolution in accordance with international commitments and foreign laws, and in advancing adequate legal and judicial protection for all parties

Obtaining and Protecting IPR in the U.S.:

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), another agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, can provide information on obtaining and protecting patents and trademarks in the U.S. USPTO can be reached via telephone at (866) 999-HALT or its website www.uspto.gov.

Other U.S. Government Agencies:

There are many U.S. Government agencies that work together to assist U.S. companies in obtaining and protecting intellectual property rights as well as combating global piracy and counterfeiting. For a listing of other agencies involved in these efforts, please visit Useful IPR Website Links.

How do I enforce my intellectual property rights in a foreign country?

First, you must determine if you have rights to the intellectual property in that country. Patents and trademarks are territorial and must be registered in each country where protection is sought. A U.S. patent and trademark does not afford protection in another country. For copyrights, as a result of international copyright treaties and conventions, many countries do not require registration of a U.S. copyright in order to enjoy copyright protection. However, the United States does not have such copyright relationships with every country.

Once you have confirmed you have intellectual property rights (IPR) in a foreign country, you must seek to enforce your rights via the civil, administrative and criminal enforcement remedies available in that country. IPR are private rights; therefore, you must protect your rights in accordance with the IPR laws of that country. Intellectual property laws can be complex therefore it is recommended that you seek local legal counsel to explore potential remedies.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Intellectual Property Rights (OIPR) can assist you in developing an enforcement strategy. OIPR, Commerce’s country experts as well as other U.S. Government IPR experts, stand ready to work with U.S. firms to help them protect their intellectual property abroad. In many cases, OIPR can provide companies with information to aid in navigating a foreign government’s legal system, including lists of local investigative firms and attorneys, and share experiences and expertise in that country. However, the U.S. Government cannot provide American companies with legal advice or advocate on a company's behalf when a matter is before a court or administrative agency. If you would like to work with OIPR to develop an enforcement strategy, please contact OIPR by telephone at (202) 482-1191 or ask a question.

In the event you have attempted to enforce your IPR through a foreign government’s legal system and the foreign government has failed to provide an adequate remedy, OIPR, in cooperation with its interagency colleagues, may be able to raise concerns related to the effective administration of legal remedies available to IPR holders with foreign government officials. OIPR’s efforts to assist with IPR disputes are aimed at achieving a fair and timely resolution in accordance with international commitments and foreign laws, and in advancing adequate legal and judicial protection for all parties.

How do I register my trademark, patent, or copyright abroad?

Patents and trademarks are territorial and must be filed in each country where protection is sought. A U.S. patent or trademark does not afford protection in another country. For more information on how to apply for individual patents or trademarks in a foreign country, contact the intellectual property office in that country directly. A list of contact information for most intellectual property offices worldwide can be found at www.wipo.int/news/en/links/addresses/ip/index.htm.

However, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) streamlines the process of filing patents in multiple countries. By filing one patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), U.S. applicants can concurrently seek protection in up to 127 countries as of September 26, 2005.

The Madrid Protocol also makes it easier to file for trademark registration in multiple countries. By filing one trademark registration application with USPTO, U.S. applicants can concurrently seek protection in up to 66 countries. For information about filing an international patent application under the PCT, visit the USPTO website: www.uspto.gov/go/pct/; and for information about filing an international trademark registration application under the Madrid Protocol, visit the USPTO website.

Although most countries do not require copyright registration in order to enjoy copyright protection, registration can offer several benefits, such as proof of ownership. The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, we honor each other's citizens' copyrights. However, the United States does not have such copyright relationships with every country. A listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States is available here.

How can I prevent intellectual property theft abroad?

Many small companies experience difficulty protecting their IPR abroad, including in China, as they are not aware of how to obtain and enforce rights in foreign markets. Some basic, often low-cost, steps small companies should consider include:

  • Working with legal counsel to develop an overall IPR protection strategy;
  • Developing detailed IPR language for licensing and subcontracting contracts;
  • Conducting due diligence of potential foreign partners (The U.S. Commercial Service can help, see Export.gov);
  • Recording their U.S.-registered trademarks and copyrights with Customs and Border Protection ($190); and
  • Securing and registering patents, trademarks, and copyrights in key foreign markets, including defensively in countries where IPR violations are common.

How else can I protect my copyright and/or trademark?

If a company has registered a copyright or trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it should consider recording its registration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Recording copyrights and trademarks with CBP assists CBP in identifying infringing goods and allows Customs to seize and destroy the infringing materials. For further information and for forms that may be used to complete a recordation please visit the customs website. Additional information on how CBP can assist in protecting a company’s IPR is available here.

Also, contracts with suppliers and distributors should often include specific language regarding intellectual property rights, including dispute settlement.

Transliterations (representations of words in the corresponding characters of another alphabet) should be considered when making trademark decisions. Foreign entities may trademark the name of your company, for example, written in their alphabet to make a transliteration of you trademark that they then trademark for themselves.

The U.S. Commercial Service can help U.S. companies evaluate potential foreign business partners. The International Company Profile and International Partner Search services are detailed here: www.export.gov/partners_and_trade_leads/index.asp.

Do I need to file for protection overseas?

If you plan on selling, distributing or sourcing your products abroad, you should consider registering or filing with each country's intellectual property (IP) authorities. Information on filing for patents and contact information for authorities around the world can be found at the World Intellectual Property Organization web site.

If a business is interested in seeking patent protection in many countries, it may be beneficial to consider the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which is an international filing mechanism that permits an applicant to file a single patent application that acts as if an application was filed in 126 different countries; however, examination under the PCT must be requested by the business in each individual country in order to be granted a patent in that country (with limited exceptions).

Also, if a business is interested in seeking trademark protection in a number of countries, it may be beneficial to consider filing an application under the Madrid Protocol, which offers one-stop-shopping for seeking trademark protection in more than one country which is a signatory to the Protocol. In addition, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has worked with the U.S. embassies in several countries to develop "IPR toolkits", which provide a wealth of detailed information on how to protect and enforce your IP rights in those specific markets. IPR toolkits for additional countries are posted periodically.

Filing for protection may not be appropriate for every business. The circumstances for determining what type of IP protection is best for your business may be complicated and differ for each individual business. Furthermore, international protection can be costly. Some issues to consider when making this decision are:

  • Will I be conducting business outside the U.S.?
  • Do I think I will ever export my product overseas?
  • Do I think I will ever manufacture my product overseas?
  • Can I afford international IP protection? If so, in what markets would my product most likely be commercially sold?
  • What forms of IP are available to me?
  • What is the likelihood of my product being copied abroad?

It is important for businesses to keep in mind that certain actions may bar certain types of protection, so the earlier a business considers IP protection, the better. Patents generally must be secured prior to entering a market or the patent seeker can lose the option of getting a patent.

Do I have to register my copyright claim?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright protection exists from the moment the work is created. However, registration provides important benefits, such as proof of ownership.

In addition, copyright owners who have registered their copyright have additional remedies if their copyright is infringed. Click here for details of U.S. copyright law.

How do I register a copyright?

To register a work, submit a completed application form, a nonrefundable filing fee of $30, and a non-returnable copy or copies of the work to be registered. Information on registration procedures is available at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#cr.

Is my copyright good in other countries?

There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect a work throughout the world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country. However, most countries offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions that have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions. Even if the work cannot be brought under an international convention, protection under the specific provisions of the country’s national laws may still be possible. A listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States is available here.

Where can I ask a question about a U.S. copyright?

If you need answers to specific copyright questions or want to know more about copyrights in general, please contact the U.S. Copyright Office at (202) 707-5959 or its website at www.copyright.gov/help/.