Intellectual Property Rights - What are they and how do you protect them?

Posted July 2, 2012
Category Company News
The rapid expansion of technology in the Global marketplace has cast focus on the real need of small to medium sized companies to consider ways to better protect their intellectual property rights (IPR) in the marketplace; both domestically and abroad.

What are intellectual property rights?  IPR’s are typically defined as inventions of the mind and are divided into two recognized categories: Industrial property, such as  inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs; and Copyrighted property, such as books and plays, artwork such as films, photographs, paintings, sculptures and drawings, music and architectural designs, drawings and blueprints.  It is important to observe that the various kinds of intellectual property are very different from one another and the protection offered for each serve different ends.

While IPR’s give owners the right to exclude others from access or use of their property for a certain period of time, international treaties and the relevant laws of other countries differ significantly to what degree of protection and enforcement is available.

Given the difficulty at times in clearly describing or defining an intellectual property and the universal lack of standard practices, U.S. businesses face significant challenges protecting their inventions, brands, and business methods in foreign markets.

So how do U.S. shippers protect their IPR?  Our best recommendation would be to visit the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ( for the most up to date information.  Exploring this website you’ll find best recommended practices, documents with titles such as “Copyright and Related Rights”, “Understanding Industrial Property”, “WIPO Intellectual Handbook”, as well as topics about protecting inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications, etc.

For topics of more general interest to U.S. Exporters, including a very important section on how to obtain patent, trademark or copyright protection in foreign countries, it is also recommended you visit the website ( which is set up explicitly to help U.S. companies’ export and offers guidance and direction on a wide range of associated topics.

Protecting your IPR’s should be as important to a shipper as protecting their assets because that is exactly what IPR’s amount to.  A great deal of resources; time, money, manpower (blood, sweat and tears too), are put into R&D and the final product, doesn’t it make sense to do everything you can to protect that investment?


W.J. Yennie
Vice President - Exports / NVOCC

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