US Trademark Application | "Protect your rights before you outsource "

By : Arlene Soto
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Category : US Trademark Application

Q: Do I need to patent my invention before having it manufactured in China?

A: U.S. patent and trademark protection, also called intellectual property rights, covers your invention only in the United States. The Small Business Administration (SBA), recommends working with legal counsel to develop an overall intellectual property rights strategy. This strategy should include developing language for licensing and subcontracting, conducting due diligence of potential foreign partners, registering intellectual property rights in key foreign markets and recording patents, trademarks and copyrights with Customs and Border Patrol This process may be costly, so it's a good idea to identify the potential target market and overall sales potential as a part of the business plan you create. You also will need to be aware of any restrictions on importing your products back into the U.S. There are many hurdles to overcome prior to making the decision to manufacture outside the United States.

Small businesses are even more vulnerable to theft of intellectual property than large businesses because most lack the resources to catch and repair problems if they occur. A patent gives you the right to defend if someone else infringes on that patent and steals your idea. Without money and time, it's difficult to catch and prosecute the person who tries to steal your idea in the U.S. and it's even more expensive and difficult in a foreign country. The World Customs Organization,, estimates counterfeiting accounts for 5 percent to 7 percent of global merchandise trade, costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year. Good information about protecting intellectual property rights outside the United States is available at This site also can be used to report theft of intellectual property rights.

A good resource for inventors in our area is the South Coast Inventors Group that meets at 6:30 p.m.the first Wednesday of each month at The Business Center, 2455 Maple Leaf, North Bend. For more information about attending a meeting ,contact the Southwestern Oregon Business Development Center at 541-756-6866 or go to The Inventors Group would be able to provide insights into resources available for inventors, ideas about protecting your intellectual property rights and even some ideas for manufacturing and distributing your products.

Before making the decision to manufacture your invention in China or another foreign country, be sure to talk with an attorney experienced in intellectual property rights and international trade. You will also want to work with someone well versed in trade issues with the country you will be manufacturing in. Then make sure your business plan is up to date with the overall strategy you plan to use to protect and market your invention including all potential costs and benefits of the decision you make.

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