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U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Launches Campaign to Help Furniture Manufacturers Fight IP Theft, Stop Fakes

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Today, success in a market economy depends more and more on intellectual property (IP) assets. Indeed, IP-based businesses drive more economic growth in the United States than any sector. Unfortunately, the benefits of capitalizing on intellectual property have captured the attention of counterfeiters and pirates around the world—and the threat posed to the U.S. economy by piracy and counterfeiting is staggering. Industry groups estimate that every year, American businesses lose $250 billion to copyright piracy and 750,000 jobs—again, per year—to overall IP theft. While all U.S. businesses are vulnerable to IP theft, small businesses—including furniture manufacturers— are often at a particular disadvantage. In the fierce competition for the time of a typical small-businessman or woman, things that go beyond payroll, accounting and general operations—including IP protection—often get put on the back burner, leaving small businesses at risk. In addition, small businesses may not have the personnel and operations needed to watch out for counterfeiters around the globe, so theft of their IP overseas can often go undetected. Given the size of the $8.9 billion U.S. furniture market, manufacturers cannot ignore the importance of protecting their intellectual property – including their brands – from counterfeiters. Helping America’s innovators protect their ideas is an important job, and for more than 200 years the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been here to ensure a strong U.S. intellectual property system and to offer IP protection in the form of patents and trademarks. Today, the USPTO is leading a government-wide effort to ensure that small businesses in the furniture industry and across the country have the information they need to make informed decisions about IP protection. The USPTO wants small businesses to think about intellectual property from day one—at the inception of their business—by asking themselves whether they need IP protection, and if so, what kind (patents, trademarks or copyrights), when and where to apply and how to go about doing so. To help small businesses answer these and many other questions, the USPTO is sponsoring a series of free seminars around the country. Two seminars are currently scheduled for the fall: September 12-13, in Austin, Texas; and September 26-27, in Miami, Florida. To register for these free seminars, please visit www.uspto.gov. More information about the USPTO’s small business initiative, along with a wealth of IP-related tools, can be found at www.stopfakes.gov/smallbusiness. About the Author Jon W. Dudas serves as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a position to which he was nominated by President George W. Bush in March 2004 and appointed in July 2004. Mr. Dudas previously served as acting Under Secretary and Director, and Deputy Under Secretary and Deputy Director from 2002 to 2004. As Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, Mr. Dudas is the lead policy advisor to the Secretary of Commerce, the President of the United States, and Administration agencies on intellectual property matters. As Director of the USPTO, he is responsible for administering the laws relevant to granting patents and trademarks, and the day-to-day management of the agency's $1.3 billion budget and 7,000 employees.

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