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Small businesses are often harmed by intellectual property theft

Most business owners understand that they must patent, copyright and/or trademark important intellectual property related to the functioning of their businesses. However, the interest of intellectual property holders is not always protected simply by the act of patenting, trademarking or copyrighting work domestically. In particular, small businesses are increasingly targeted for intellectual property theft, precisely because many small businesses believe that they do not have the resources to properly protect their intellectual property or enforce their rights.

An example out of the Midwest involves a rubber supply and service outlet that manufactures parts for floor scrubbers using a unique red rubber. The rubber is trademarked for use by the company's Malaysian manufacturer, but was not initially protected in the global market in any other way. Counterfeiters have now taken not only the rubber but also its trademarked name. The counterfeit rubber is now being sold throughout the world at dramatically reduced prices. The Midwestern company is being forced to match counterfeit prices in the global market just to retain a share of its own property.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon. According to the International Trade Association, intellectual property theft is one of the most pressing and widespread problems that small business exporters are experiencing in today's marketplace.

However, unlike corporate giants, small businesses do not always prepare for the impact of potential intellectual property theft. Consulting an experienced attorney may help businesses both prevent intellectual property theft and enforce property rights in the event that intellectual property is stolen.

Source: Star Tribune "Intellectual property theft hurts small businesses," Dee Depass, Nov. 3, 2012

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