intellectual property

Lawmakers Push for Stronger Patent Protections from Customs and Border Protection

Manufacturers know that intellectual property is the basis of America’s innovative economy, and protecting intellectual property (IP) rights assures manufacturers that their inventions will be secure as they build their companies and create jobs. Manufacturers face many challenges in protecting their IP, and they need allies in the federal government to help halt illicit imports that infringe on their rights.

Several Congressional leaders recently called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to more effectively protect U.S. patent holders from imports that infringe their patents, without disrupting legitimate trade. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch sent a recent letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to inquire about CBP’s resources and processes for enforcing  exclusion orders. Rep. Howard Coble, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property & the Internet, also sent a letter expressing his concerns about CBP’s process for enforcing exclusion orders. Rep. Coble called for DHS to conduct an independent review of CBP’s enforcement procedures and make recommendations that would improve fairness, transparency and efficacy.

Under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is charged with investigating allegations of unfair import practices that involve patent infringement. If the ITC finds that a violation has occurred, it directs CBP to deny entry of the infringing product into the United States. Patent holders that prevail in these costly, technical and often contentious cases should expect robust enforcement from CBP. A survey conducted in FY2010 found that more than half of respondents believed infringing goods had been imported after ITC issued an exclusion order.

The NAM will continue working to ensure lawmakers pursue a manufacturing growth agenda that recognizes IP as the basis of an innovation economy and supports trade.

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New GDP Revision Values Intellectual Property

Numbers released today by the Commerce Department for the first time put an official value on the contribution of intellectual property (IP) to America’s economic growth, underscoring the need for strong IP protection and enforcement.

In its latest comprehensive revision to U.S. GDP, the Commerce Department announced changes to how the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will measure the size of the economy.

Specifically, BEA is adopting an expanded definition of business investment that includes spending on R&D and works of art like movies. These expenditures will form part of a new investment category called “intellectual property products.”

As BEA Director Steve Landefeld explained in a recent New York Times interview, “one of the longstanding gaps in the numbers has been the contributions of intangibles – creations in the arts and entertainment, research and development, things like that – and what they contribute to GDP.”

This change and others raised the value of U.S. GDP in the first quarter of 2013 by a whopping $551 billion, according to a statement by Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Alan Krueger.

The new measure better values innovation and creativity. It updates national accounting for today’s knowledge economy and validates the results of past studies demonstrating IP’s powerful impact on jobs and commerce.

If “what gets measured is what gets done,” the new numbers should put new muscle behind protecting and enforcing patents, trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights at home and abroad.

The NAM will continue working to that end through a manufacturing growth agenda that recognizes IP as the basis of America’s innovative economy.

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Administration Releases IP Enforcement Strategy

The cost of counterfeiting and piracy to jobs and the economy is staggering. According to the Commerce Department, innovative industries directly support more than 27 million jobs across the country. At a time when growth is still fragile, a recent report by the Commission on the Theft of Intellectual Property found that stolen ideas, brands and inventions drain more than $300 billion from the U.S. economy.

The scale and scope of global counterfeiting and piracy defies easy solutions. But when businesses and government work together effectively, they can achieve real results. That’s among the highlights of the Administration’s new Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement released late last week by U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel.

The Plan outlines actions companies and federal agencies have taken over the last three years to protect patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. For example, Customs and Homeland Security have increased seizures of infringing imports at the border by 53 percent. More than a dozen companies are working together voluntarily to combat the sale of fake medicines, movies, music and other infringing products on the Internet.

 

Congress is also taking action to raise the stakes for counterfeiters and pirates by increasing penalties for trafficking in infringing goods and services. It has expanded legal authority to seize and destroy fakes. It has clarified the protection of trade secrets related to “a product or service used in or intended for use in” interstate or foreign commerce, in line with the Administration’s overall push to combat the theft of trade secrets.

 

While these actions have produced results, manufacturers in the United States continue to face substantial challenges internationally. The Joint Strategic Plan outlines steps the Administration will take to build on these and other results, including strengthening intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement abroad through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, expanding international law enforcement cooperation and supporting small and medium-sized businesses in foreign markets.

These steps are consistent with the NAM’s Manufacturing Growth Strategy, which recognizes “IP as the basis of America’s innovative economy” and calls for “a coordinated policy that strengthens the protection of IP rights by both domestic laws and international agreements.”

Counterfeiting and piracy will continue to challenge the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States. But by strengthening coordination and forging innovative partnerships, businesses and government are demonstrating what works. The NAM looks forward to advancing strong IP protections and enforcement for all products through these avenues, including the TPP and T-TIP negotiations where the United States should be seeking the strongest possible IP outcomes that will advance our global competitiveness.

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NAM Continues to Spread the Word on IP Theft

If you are reading this blog post it likely means you care about how intellectual property theft puts manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. Well, the NAM cares strongly about this issue too. As part of our ongoing efforts to educate the public on the high premium manufacturers place on the value of IT to their business, the NAM is participating in a panel discussion tomorrow on the impact of information technology theft and what tactics State Attorney Generals (AG) are using to combat it. You are welcome to listen in via the live webcast.

Information technology (IT) and intellectual property (IP) theft directly harms manufacturers and compromises American competitiveness.  The American Bar Association (ABA) is sponsoring this panel discussion on innovative enforcement actions designed to curb unfair competition from manufacturers that use stolen technology. The panelists include former FTC Chair Bill Kovacic, the NAM’s Tiffany Adams, and Emilio Varanini from the California Department of Justice. The panel will be moderated by Rob McKenna, the former Washington state AG.

As a leading member of the National Alliance for Jobs & Innovation (NAJI), the NAM’s participation in the panel continues our efforts to support initiatives that level the competitive playing field for manufacturers in the US. We encourage you to join us or listen in.

The event is Wednesday, June 26, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. There is no charge for the event.

Click here for more information and to register.

 

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Manufacturers Win with Cybersecurity

Today was a big win for manufacturers in the House of Representatives. In recent years, cybersecurity has become more and more of a focus for manufacturers who operate networks featuring comprehensive and collaborative networks between customers, vendors, suppliers and governments. As the threat of online attacks grows, manufacturers have implemented the most complete security possible to protect those networks – but current law doesn’t offer the full protection manufacturers need. But with today’s passage of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) of 2013 (H.R. 624) we’re a lot closer.

“Manufacturers take any intrusion seriously, but the problem is that we can’t get any information from the government about what those threats are,” said NAM Director of Technology and Domestic Economic Policy Brian Raymond. “CISPA fixes the problem by creating a stronger partnership among the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community and manufacturers, allowing them to collaborate when credible threats arise.”

Marlin Steel, led by President Drew Greenblatt, an NAM executive committee member, takes a strong stance against cyber crime, noting, “if greater information-sharing can help find and prosecute someone using the Internet to commit a crime, it is a line worth shifting.”

The House voted 288-127 to pass the bill – with significant and widespread bipartisan support. Support for CISPA is strong and growing. Which makes the President’s threat of a veto perplexing at best. This is a solution that delivers the necessary protections and information sharing without adding duplicative regulations that fail to improve security. CISPA will allow manufacturers to take an increasingly proactive, rather than a reactive, approach to threats.

As the NAM Technology Subcommittee Chair, Eric Fitzgerald Reed, said, “Cybersecurity will play a significant role in defining the future of the Internet and business in the 21st century, so it is natural that the manufacturing and high-tech communities strongly support the CISPA legislation.”

It’s time for the Senate and the President to take the baton and put into law the protections that manufacturers need to counter the growing cyber threats in an online world.

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New Force Against IP Theft Launched

Recently the National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation (NAJI) has launched a new line of defense in the battle to protect the intellectual property and information technology developed here in the U.S. The NAM is a leading member of this 100-plus member coalition developed to fight IP and IT theft around the world.

According to the NAJI, IP and IT innovation directly accounts for more than 27 million jobs in the U.S. Theft of IP and IT is hurting manufacturers in the U.S., costing billions to both large and small manufacturers. Innovation is the lifeblood of manufacturing. The advances in technology and production that allow manufacturers in the U.S. to succeed both on a domestic and global scale are built on a foundation of behind the scenes work and creativity.

A manufacturing.net article features NAM Executive Committee member and President of Marlin Steel, Drew Greenblatt, who puts a human face on the rampant IP and IT theft that is hurting his business and countless others just like it.

“Greenblatt has been working on building up Marlin Steel since 1998, when he bought the company and moved its operations to Baltimore, Maryland. He currently employs 32, including a handful of degree-holding mechanical engineers, and he wants to expand the business to create more well-paying American jobs. But he’s working in an environment where foreign competitors ‘literally copy-and-paste [the Marlin Steel] website,’ including both his name and the company’s name, and then blatantly copy any new designs that his mechanical engineers come up with.

Greenblatt says, ‘We have these amazing designs that my engineers are coming up with. They’re innovative and different. We’re whopping China, we’re hiring people, we’re growing, we’re reinvesting back into the plant — these are all good things. This is what makes America great. I pay my guys really well, and we want this train to continue. It makes it hard if the American government is not protecting me and my company’s IP. It hurts the stellar abilities of my engineers.’”

The NAM is a leader in the fight against IP theft – and our resolve to protect manufacturer’s sweat equity is unyielding. We’re looking forward to working with the NAJI to ensure that manufacturer’s innovation is protected the world over.

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NAM Co-Hosts Hill Briefing on Tech Innovation and Manufacturing Growth.

If Congressional staff did not know before this morning how high-tech manufacturing is, they do now after attending a briefing with some of the leading American innovators. The NAM joined forces with the BSA | The Software Alliance on Thursday, February 21, to demonstrate to members of Congress, their staff and the media the important role software solutions have in spurring manufacturing technology advances and creating economic opportunity.

Executives from NAM members The Procter & Gamble Company and Microsoft Corporation were among the companies that participated on a panel discussion on why software and other intellectual property must be protected to help drive innovation. Manufacturers of all sizes leverage information technology to design, produce and deliver their products.

Educating Congress and the public on the strong role that manufacturers play in America’s global technology leadership position is a priority for the NAM. We encourage you to share your innovative story with the NAM and help us drive that message.

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Unfair Competitors Cannot Skirt the Rules in California

When California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed suit last week against two manufacturers that were using pirated software in their operations it signaled to garment makers around the world that if you don’t play by the rules, you will be held accountable.

The move by the AG supports the NAM’s current efforts to stop manufacturers from unfairly competing against companies in the U.S. If a company uses pirated or stolen software in their operations it reduces their overhead unfairly allowing them to underbid legitimate operations and, in some cases, can jeopardize the safety of their customers. This is not good for American consumers or the manufacturing industry fighting aggressively to gain global market share and create jobs.

We last told you about this issue in a blog post in October when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed suit against a Thai seafood company using pirated software giving them an unfair advantage over the Bay State’s fishing companies. While these industries are important, this is not just limited to cargo pants and crab legs. Pirated software can be used in the creation of semiconductors, medications, and auto parts. Like apparel manufacturers and the food industry, these too are job creators in America that play by the rules. Companies that compete unfairly against them should be stopped.

The NAM has joined the National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation, a coalition of manufacturers from around the country working together to address this issue. We encourage you to check out the website and consider participating in this important effort.

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Software Piracy Hurts Manufacturers

Manufacturers make significant investments in information technology to increase their competitive edge both here and abroad. Software specifically helps drive efficiency in product design, communication, manufacturing processes, customer safety, enterprise efficiency, and even environmental impact. Now more than ever the IT leveraged by manufacturers provides an increasing competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

Unfortunately, not everyone is playing by the rules. Many companies – usually from outside the U.S. – are illegally utilizing pirated software inside their enterprise. This practice provides for an unfair advantage over manufacturers that follow the law. It can lead to job loss, a drain on innovation, and a direct negative impact on the bottom line.

A bipartisan group of sixteen Senators recently sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calling for action on this practice that hurts manufacturers. The Senators cited a recent request submitted to the FTC by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) asking for the Commission to address this unfair competition.

Last year when the NAM released our “Four Goals for Economic Growth” it gave policymakers the blueprint for ensuring the U.S. remains the best place in the world for manufacturers. In it, we urge them to recognize intellectual property (IP) as the basis of America’s innovative economy. The NAM knows that IP is a critical aspect of our manufacturing economy. The NAAG says in their letter that “The importance of the manufacturing sector to the U.S economy cannot be overstated.” We’re glad to see more leaders recognize that if you aren’t doing what is right for manufacturers and their IP, you aren’t doing what’s right for the economy.

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National Association of Attorneys General Weigh in on IP Theft

Intellectual property (IP) theft is a crime that hurts everyone – including businesses, workers and consumers. It has a particularly devastating impact on manufacturing in the U.S. Stolen technology, pirated software and a variety of other IP theft across the globe costs manufacturers millions and undermines the principles of free enterprise and competition.

The National Association of Attorneys General weighed in on the subject of IP theft this week in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Director of the Bureau of Competition.  They note that one in six private sector jobs are dependent on the U.S. manufacturing base and the Association is seeking assistance from the FTC in addressing IP theft.  Their research turned up several egregious examples of manufacturers suffering due to IP theft, including:

  • “A California-based apparel manufacturer must compete with an Indian manufacturer that steals over $14 million in software;
  • A Washington-based paper mill must compete with a Mexican paper manufacturer that uses over $10 million in stolen software;
  • An Indiana-based parts manufacturer must face a Chinese competitor that steals over $5.2 million in software.”

The NAM is a leader in the fight against IP theft and it’s good to see a number of states involved and demanding more federal leadership on this issue.

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