PARTICIPATING IN LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS
The scope and protection of, and the ability to enforce, your intellectual property rights is in many ways dependent upon the legal and regulatory frameworks adopted by the jurisdictions in which you’re doing business. Put simply, the decisions made by legislators and agencies have a direct impact on your bottom line, and your ability to protect and grow your business.
The continued rise of counterfeit sales, pirated content, and consumer fraud have spurred governments around the world to propose and enact legislation to address counterfeiting and IP crime. It is important, as a brand owner, to support these efforts and to be an advocate for consumer protection and protection of intellectual property rights.
As an SME, you may feel like you don’t have a voice in the legislative or regulatory process – whether due to a lack of resources to hire lobbyists or an in-house government relations team, or the time to effectively engage with policymakers while also managing the other aspects of your business. There are some simple (and affordable) steps you can take to ensure that your voice is heard.
Industry associations – like the IACC – can be a valuable source of information regarding proposed changes to intellectual property laws that could impact you. Whether in the context of monitoring legislation, opportunities for input into government research and reports, or opportunities to participate in educational or training programs with government agencies; association membership provides you with countless opportunities to provide feedback on relevant issues and concerns.
One such example is the Special 301 Report – an annual review by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), that highlights key concerns of industry stakeholders in countries around the world. Each year, USTR seeks input from the private sector to inform its final report; every IACC member has the opportunity to share information regarding the challenges they’re facing, and that intelligence is aggregated with feedback provided by others. It’s a simple and straightforward way to not only ensure that the government is aware of your concerns, but also to amplify those concerns through a unified voice with the broader rights-holder community.
Keep an eye out for notices regarding these types of opportunities to share your thoughts and ideas.
If you are looking to engage directly, there are still a number of steps you can take to make sure that you’re doing so in the most efficient and effective manner. To start, it helps to identify the agencies and committees who are primarily responsible for setting and influencing the government’s activity in the IP space.
In the United States, for example, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have primary jurisdiction over any legislation pertaining to intellectual property law. Similarly, the House Ways & Means Committee and Senate Finance oversee issues related to customs and border enforcement; and both chambers have standing committees specifically focused on the concerns of small businesses – the Small Business Committee (House) and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee (Senate). Keeping an eye on each committee’s website is a simple of way of staying up to date on current legislation, upcoming hearings, and similar matters that may impact you.
Staying apprised of activity in the Executive Branch can be challenging, given the number of agencies that are involved in intellectual property matters. A great place to start, however, is the National IPR Coordination Center – a fusion center that brings over two dozen federal agencies (and a few international partners) together under one roof. Whether you’re looking to report IP crimes that are impacting your company, information about ongoing enforcement efforts, or simply seeking a contact to assist with protecting your rights, the IPR Center is a one-stop-shop.
There are also a number of other dedicated resources throughout the federal government such as the USPTO’s IP Attaches, the Department of Justice’s ICHIPs, and the Department of Commerce’s STOP Initiative that are available to lend valuable assistance with issues you are facing around the world.
An important word of warning, engaging in lobbying efforts, whether at the federal or state level, may trigger a number of statutory registration and disclosure requirements intended to ensure transparency and safeguard against corruption. Before moving forward with any advocacy activities, you should consult with an experienced attorney who can make sure that you don’t run afoul of any legal landmines.
Whether you’re leaning on the IACC for help or looking to engage directly with the government – we’re here to make sure you get the assistance you need.
Get Involved! The SME voice can have an especially strong impact towards more effective IP legal and policy regimes around the world. The toolkit also includes ways you can lend your voice to advocating for stronger policies, laws and enforcement against intellectual property crime.
If you are interested in becoming an active participant in advocacy efforts, please contact the IACC’s by submitting this Contact Us form.
Please sign in or click below to gain access to this page.SME Brand Protection Toolkit