Intellectual property policies are in place throughout the world to protect the works and ideas of inventors, artists, and creators in all different industries and markets. 

Intellectual Property Policy

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) works to protect intellectual property (IP) on a domestic and global scale. The Secretary of Commerce is advised by the USPTO on foreign and domestic IP issues, which keeps the President and other federal agencies aware of potential IP issues throughout the country and the world. 

The USPTO conducts surveys, programs, and studies to stay aware of the economic climates throughout the world regarding issues of IP. Some countries have stronger IP policies than others and some have bigger IP issues than others, depending on their marketplace and economic climate. 

Patent Policies

Patents cover IP in the form of processes, inventions, and innovations. Within the USPTO, the Office of Policy and International Affairs enforces patent infringement laws on a domestic and global scale. 

Trademark Policies

Trademark law covers titles and brand names. Companies and individuals can register a trademark with the USPTO to keep competitors from advertising or marketing a product using certain words, phrases, logos, or symbols. For instance, the Pepsi logo can only be used to market products officially made by the Pepsi company. Any use of that logo by another company would be considered trademark infringement and could result in a costly lawsuit. 

The Office of Policy and International Affairs in the USPTO also handles any trademark issues between international and domestic entities. 

Copyright law protects the creations of artists in many different mediums. The following types of work are protected by Copyrights:

  • Paintings and sculptures
  • Architecture
  • Books and poems
  • Plays and musicals
  • Computer software

Copyright infringement issues are also handled through the USPTO which advises federal agencies and administration on copyright litigation. 

Trade Secret Policies

Trade secrets are another form of IP protected by intellectual property policies. Companies can protect specific aspects of their product manufacturing with trade secret laws. The formulas for certain soft drinks or other food products are frequently protected as trade secrets. Companies can help to secure their competitive edge by holding on to trade secrets. 

Intellectual Property Policy Enforcement

As IP policies are well-enforced, creators are given more incentive to invent, innovate and keep industries moving forward. Such movement is good for the economy, so it is in the best interest of the United States to protect IP across domestic and global markets. There are several organizations whose main focus is to help protect IP by encouraging policy enforcement. 

Within the USPTO, the IP Attaché Program is in place to help enforce IP policy, advocate for stakeholders in the United States, and encourage honest and fair trading practices domestically and abroad. 

IP protection is not only an issue within the United States as other countries have major issues with IP policy infringement. The hope of organizations like the Office of Policy and International Affairs (OPIA) is to not only have strict IP policies in the United States but across the globe as well. 

The Office of the Chief Economist is an office within the United States Department of State that advises the Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs and the Under Secretary regarding issues of intellectual property policies. IP policy is becoming more and more of a foreign policy and defense issue every year. 

Intellectual Property Policy Language

Intellectual property policies can differ depending on what type of company or institution is enacting the policy. Some universities and colleges have a generic IP policy, but others will write their own policies that the faculty and administration of the school negotiate. Sometimes IP policies are formed alongside collective bargaining contracts. 

No matter how or why an IP policy is formed, the language should cover the following information:

  • Define the IP
  • Specify the owner of the IP
  • Specify the authorized users of the IP
  • Detail the process of fund distribution
  • Detail the process of resolution regarding potential disputes or issues

Starting with an introduction and a preamble, a policy will explain its purpose and then proceed to include the necessary information. 

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