12:24 PM

Patent Office Joins Chamber For Piracy, Counterfeiting Tour

The tour is part of the government's Strategy Targeting Piracy (STOP!) initiative, which targets networks trafficking in pirated and counterfeit goods at U.S. borders.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plan a multi-city tour to educate people about counterfeiting and piracy.

The groups kicked off the tour Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C. The tour is part of the USPTO's Strategy Targeting Piracy (STOP!) initiative, which targets networks trafficking in pirated and counterfeit goods at U.S. borders. It also helps small businesses obtain and enforce rights abroad.

Representatives from the Chamber and the Patent Office said small businesses are vulnerable because they often lack knowledge, expertise, and personnel to combat intellectual property theft.

Jon Dudas, under secretary of Commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO, said small businesses make up 98% of all North Carolina employers and provide 1.6 million jobs. Last year, North Carolina exported more than $21 billion worth of products, according to the USPTO.

North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, joined representatives from NASCAR, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice and several private businesses that sent representatives for Wednesday's presentations.

The tour also will stop in Detroit, San Antonio, Seattle, Portland, and Burlington, Vermont.

The USPTO also has a Web site and a toll free hotline (1-866-999-HALT) to combat intellectual property theft. The site is geared toward small businesses and provides information on the risks of counterfeiting and piracy, while explaining how small businesses can mitigate their risks and make IP protection and priority.

Dudas said in a prepared statement that the tour is a continuation of seminars the USPTO has held to combat piracy and counterfeiting.

"This year, we are proud to team with the U.S. Chamber to continue this mission, and believe that by working together, we can help disseminate this information to the widest possible audience," he said.

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