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Global commerce means facing a tangle of patent jurisdictions

The issue of patent infringement on the global stage is one that we've talked about before. Readers may recall our post last year in which we explored whether it's possible for anyone to own the rights to the form of exercise called yoga.

As we observed then, while it's possible to trace the roots of yoga to India, that geographic significance isn't enough to allow regulators to allocate rights of invention to anyone in particular. Nor is there any worldwide organization in place with jurisdiction to deal with claims when intellectual property disputes arise in what is now a global marketplace. That makes it all the more important to work with legal counsel who have experience in this area of practice.

The difficulties a business can face when trying to protect intellectual property outside of California and the rest of the United States are many. Most of them are known and can be met with adequate planning. However, the pace of change in the world economy is so rapid that sometimes new issues crop up and creative legal solutions can be required.

For any business, large or small, seeking to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) overseas, here are some possible tips to consider:

  • Consult an experienced attorney about an overall protection strategy
  • Ensure that accurate and detailed IPR language is in all licensing and all business contracts
  • Be careful and thorough in vetting potential foreign partners
  • Record any U.S. trademarks and copyrights held with Customs and Border Protection
  • Secure proper patents, trademarks and copyrights through the proper government agencies in the foreign markets you plan to enter - especially those where infringement is common.

Misappropriation of a business' ideas and intellectual assets can be a serious threat to success. But protection is possible by taking proper care.

Source: USPTO.gov, "Protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Overseas," accessed June 17, 2016

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