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Intellectual Property Spotlight leaves small businesses in the dark

Posted by ipelton on: September 29th, 2010

The Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator(“IPEC”) recently recently the 1st issue of its Intellectual Property Spotlight newsletter (PDF).  The IPEC is an position that was created by Congress in 2008 and headed by Victoria Espinel.  The Spotlight discuss several initiatives undertaken by the IPEC office and a summary of the contents of the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement released earlier this year by Ms. Espinel.

The newsletter surprised me because of two things omitted:

  • Any reference to small businesses and the significance of educating small businesses about the importance of I.P. protection, and the role of small business intellectual property to technology, progress, jobs and innovation in the United States.  I think that before they were Fortune 100 companies, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and just about every other company (a) started relatively small, (b) is successful in large part because of its intellectual property, and (c) has grown through the acquisition of successful small businesses and their intellectual property.
  • Reference to the “Trademark Technical and Conforming Amendment Act of 2010” which was signed into law by President Obama in March and requires “Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, shall study and report to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives on–
  1. the extent to which small businesses may be harmed by litigation tactics by corporations attempting to enforce trademark rights beyond a reasonable interpretation of the scope of the rights granted to the trademark owner; and
  2. the best use of Federal Government services to protect trademarks and prevent counterfeiting.”

Little or no information has been made available about this study and how or by whom it is being conducted or how the public can comment or participate.  Six months have already passed and it appears that the study has either not yet begun or it is not being conducted in public view; either way, it appears the study is not being taken seriously.

The Spotlight articles and reports focus nearly exclusively on plaintiff’s and enforcement activities.  While these are important, there is no reference to successful defenses of intellectual property rights, over zealous plaintiffs who fail in the efforts and costs defendants and the judicial system great time and money, or any tips businesses can take to enhance their protection or  enforcement efforts.
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