Protecting Intellectual Property Critical to Manufacturers

By February 10, 2012Trade

The NAM submitted its comments to the United States Trade Representative on our priorities for intellectual property rights protections around the world. The NAM has long been a strong supporter of a proactive, aggressive U.S. Government approach to international intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

IPR protection is truly a global concern for the NAM. This year we placed a special emphasis on addressing the increasing theft of trade secrets around the world, and the corrosive effect of the erosion of IP rights in international institutions like the World Health Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization. 

Despite some activists views, the protection of the property of innovators and creators is not inconsistent with other social interests, internet freedom or access to information. It is about ensuring our creators and innovators receive the income from, and protection for, their creations and innovations and the jobs that flow from them. It is also about our democratic institutions and rule of law.

The American public, the Congress and the Administration need to understand the impact that IPR theft and erosion of IP protection has on manufacturing, broadly defined. For the United States to retain the manufacturing base that most of us believe we must, the protection of the intellectual assets of our innovators, including patents, trademarks, and trade secrets, is a critical component.

Counterfeiting and piracy threatens far more than company sales, exports, and profits. When counterfeits get onto markets, consumer health, safety and life itself are put seriously at risk. Counterfeiters are often connected to organized crime and are completely unconcerned about consumers’ health and safety, or a company’s good reputation for producing healthful, helpful and safe products.

To illustrate this, please consider the following story from a NAM Member:

“My company has been a victim of counterfeited products in the Middle East for years. A former customer took our product and had it made in China with our name on it. The packaging was duplicated and they had our name on the box with our instructions with our name and address on it. This allowed him to sell a counterfeit product to steal our market and with inferior product single handedly ruined our product’s reputation. It took us 30 years of hard work to create our good name and it took the counterfeiter only two years to ruin it. We were finally able to track the counterfeiter down and seek justice which in [country] takes years, so far more than seven. Sometime soon we hope to get our money damages.”

Our members remain committed to working with the U.S. Government to develop ideas and ways to enhance intellectual property protection both at our borders and abroad.

Stephen Jacobs is senior director of international business policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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