March 2, 2017
Intellectual Property Rights: Lets Keep it Real
Infringement on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) have been an increasing threat to our well-being and businesses. Intellectual property includes patents, protected items, and confidential business information. The Department of Commerce reported that IP-intensive industries directly account for 27.9 million jobs and indirectly support another 17.6 million jobs. These figures combined make up approximately 30% of all jobs in America.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Fiscal Year 2016, the number of counterfeit seizures increased 9% to 31,560 from 28,865 in FY2015. The total estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the seized goods, had they been genuine, increased to $1,382,903,001 from $1,352,495,341 in FY2015. The full IPR Annual Seizure Statistics can be found on CBP’s site.
Unregulated IPR items can pose numerous safety hazards. For example, electronics can overheat, beauty products may contain harmful chemicals, and medicine can contain no active ingredients. Be mindful to check for the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label since this label signifies that the product has been verified as safe to use. In addition, these products may be manufactured in an unsafe facility with toxic materials and forced labor. Consumers may think they’re getting a “deal” but the cost in the long run can not only be harmful to your health but to our economy.
IPR infringements and illegal trade practices continually put businesses in jeopardy. When consumers are deceived, and purchase these inferior products thinking that they are real, the brand name suffers. Saturating the marketplace with inferior but similar products will also dilute the value of the products leading to decreased sales for the company. Collective efforts from government agencies and businesses are needed to combat the distribution of counterfeit goods. Recently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the National Football League (NFL) joined forces for “Operation Team Player.” Read how “Operation Team Player” seized over 260,000 counterfeit sports-related items worth an estimated $20 million during this year’s Super Bowl.
As consumers, we need to become more conscientious about what and who we are purchasing from, making sure it’s from reputable sellers. Being educated on IPR is the first step in guarding against IPR infringements. The Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPRC) distributes a monthly newsletter, IPRC Connections, that provides the latest developments on IPR. In their December 2016 issue, they show appreciation for businesses and companies, like Avalon Risk Management, that support their outreach training efforts. If your company is interested, visit www.iprcenter.gov for more information.
If you experience any IP theft, you can report this to the IPRC. A “Report IP Theft” link is available on Avalon’s website. Avalon will also post issues of IPRC Connections to spread the news. Enforcement of IPR regulations are important for a prosperous and productive economy. A collective effort is necessary not only for our economy but for the safety of consumers.