Last month, the heads of the intellectual property (IP) offices in the G7 nations – United States, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan – along with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), pledged to work together to promote innovation and combat piracy, IP infringement and counterfeiting.
The IP leaders issued a joint statement saying in part, “We recognize that an effective international IP system is necessary to incentivize innovation and creativity worldwide. In light of the far-reaching negative social and economic consequences of IP infringements, fostering a positive culture of IP and fighting counterfeiting and piracy are equally important and represent two sides of the same coin.”
While cooperation across the G7 nations is significant and should not be dismissed, it’s only a first step and it will be interesting to see what this cooperation looks like going forward and how it will address the vast majority of fraudulent filings that are coming from non-G7 nations.
The problem is that in less than a decade, trademark applications in the United States alone have increased astronomically from 6,323 trademark applications in 2014 to more than 175,000 filed in 2021. Most of the increase in filings can be tracked to fraudulent filings from entities in foreign nations, like Russia, Pakistan, and particularly China, whose applications have grown by more than 2,700 percent since 2014.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued orders to show cause against the most egregious offenders, which, if carried to their conclusion, will prohibit those entities and the attorneys representing them, from filing trademark or patent applications on behalf of themselves and other clients. Enforcement must start somewhere, but the sheer volume of filings may make it seem like trying to stop the rise and fall of the ocean’s tides.
Nevertheless, the USPTO and others in the world community recognize that efforts must be made to protect IP rights if innovation is to flourish. The nations understand that innovation is the best hope to address some of the major issues facing the world in the coming years.
For innovation to be successful, the innovator must be able to sell, trade or license their patented technologies and prevent others from making, selling, retailing, or importing that technology illegally and/or fraudulently. This begins by respecting IP rights and enforcing the laws against those who refuse to respect those rights.
If you have any questions or concerns about filing a trademark registration, an IP attorney at Ference and Associates, LLC, will be happy to speak with you. Please visit www.ferencelaw.com or call (412) 741-8400.