Failure to Protect your Intellectual Property: A Fatal Mistake of International Business
What are the implications of a failure to protect your intellectual property (IP) as it applies to International Business, and how do you protect yourself?
One of the most valuable underpinnings of a company is its IP. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents allow companies to differentiate, ensure authenticity, and maintain long-term revenue streams. Nevertheless, many companies venture into international business without understanding or protecting the value of their IP. When little or no effort is made to protect the IP, they may well find others stealing the IP rights or even worse, registering the IP as their own and the parent company losing rights to its own IP.
It does not have to be like this. There are numerous techniques, regulations, methods, and strategies that minimize, and if you do it correctly, effectively stop the wholesale theft of IP. There are also dedicated IP lawyers whose primary role is to support your thinking, to provide specific guidance regarding trademarks and branding, and to then use legal processes to file and register your IP so that it is, as far as is humanly possible, fully protected.
Even then, in the event that these actions fail, and you find products using your IP coming into the US market, there is one last opportunity to shut down the theft. The Import and Border Protection Department of the US Government can be advised of the illegal use of your IP, and they will then search and work to stop entry of the products into the US Market.
What are the primary consequences of not protecting your Intellectual Property in the international marketplace?
How to Protect against IP Theft
The process of IP protections starts with a detailed understanding the market, the competition, and the local culture to allow you to determine the real threat. A meeting with an IP Lawyer may at this stage be appropriate but not always necessary. If there is a real threat, involve a lawyer. Discuss the protection of your brand, your IP, and your patents. However, it is ultimately your responsibility to establish and maintain your IP protection. The steps below can help you manage this process internationally.
The rights to and protection of IP are very clearly defined in law in most of the countries of interest to US businesses. If you engage professional support and are prepared to do the upfront research and planning, your IP can be significantly protected. Not all nations honor or protect the IP of others. It is your duty and responsibility to protect your own IP.