Recent visits from USPTO IP attachés in Orlando and Atlanta provided interaction and education with an international flavor

For 10 years, former and current staff from the USPTO’s Intellectual Property (IP) Attaché offices have visited businesses, inventor support organizations, and legal representatives to hear the concerns of stakeholders and educate them about IP. During recent visits to Orlando and Atlanta, the attachés continued the tradition, presenting a world of possibilities and information to local innovators exploring international IP protection.

The team included David Kellis, IP attaché from the Brazil (Mercosur) office; John Cabeca, IP counselor from the India (South Asia) office; Gabriele Gagliani, an IP specialist and lawyer from the Europe office; Duncan Wilson, China senior attorney and former IP attaché from the Beijing, China office; Deborah Lashley-Johnson, acting director of the IP Attaché Program, and other members of the USPTO’s Office of Policy and International Affairs.

They visited locations across the creative and innovative spectrum, including Universal Studios, the Kennedy Space Station, Tyler Perry Studios, and Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, promoting attaché services for U.S. stakeholders hosted in 10 countries around the world.

These were the first in-person attaché visits like this since COVID-19 emerged as a worldwide health threat in early 2020 and required the attachés, like many others, to conduct outreach online. Previously, the attachés held similar tours in Seattle and Boston. They were excited to re-engage with innovators in person for this trip, and are already planning to visit similar groups in San Diego next year.

Situational instruction

When it comes to educating people about international IP protection, one size does not fit all.

Each global region has its own legislative process and legal structures relating to getting and enforcing IP rights. Attachés shared insights on what U.S. innovators should consider as they secure international IP rights and invited stakeholders to take advantage of the many USPTO resources available to help protect IP at home.

Attachés—who are extremely well versed in all areas of IP law—also have connections in their representative regions that can help American businesses facilitate commercialization in the area and mitigate many pitfalls that U.S. stakeholders encounter. In relation to IP, they help people understand how to navigate foreign laws and regulations, as well as how foreign courts and governments work.

High tech, high stakes

The Orlando visits centered around many high-tech projects and considerations, including the Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP), Cenfluence, and the Florida High-Tech Corridor: a collection of universities and small and medium-sized tech enterprises from 23 counties across Central Florida that have witnessed substantial growth in their region.

The Central Florida region has an active tech sector, which includes semiconductors. The attachés discussed how IP is vitally important to the American semiconductor industry, which depends on a robust patent system and strong protections for trade secrets, as well as tools to combat the spread of counterfeit goods.

They also shared the USPTO’s Semiconductor Technology Pilot Program, which supports the unique needs of this industry by expediting the examination of patent applications for innovations that increase semiconductor device production, reduce semiconductor manufacturing costs, and strengthen the semiconductor supply chain.

The meeting hosts appreciated the attaches’ valuable insights visit.

“I know these kinds of true face-to-face discussions play a huge role in boundary-breaking collaboration, community-driven innovation, and building deep trust between all of our teams,” said Paul A. Sohl, CEO of the Florida High Tech Corridor.

Attachés connected with a wide range of people, companies, and nonprofits:

  • Heads of semiconductor companies, including Tokyo Electron, imec, BRIDG, and SkyWater
  • Attorneys and technology personnel at Universal Studios
  • Limbitless Solutions—a small nonprofit dedicated to improving lives, primarily of children, through the development of bionic arms
  • A group of private companies, IP practitioners, and local government officials in the commercial space and aerospace sectors

Atlanta highlights

The visit in Georgia focused more on innovation in the arts, which also benefits from the insights attachés can provide.

At Tyler Perry Studios, attachés had an informal discussion with various representatives from law firms, the Georgia Film Office, and artist organizations. In addition to discussing the state of relevant IP areas in the region, they also shared about the unique issues of piracy in India, film censorship in China, and the implications of artificial intelligence globally. “I think it was all a great success,” said Brandon Anthony, general counsel for Tyler Perry Studios, about the visit. ”We will for sure stay in touch, as the group was very impressed with the program.”

Attachés also met with representatives of the Georgia Lawyers for the Arts (GLA), which provides IP law support for artistic creatives and inventors. GLA has worked closely with the USPTO Patent Pro Bono program to provide support for innovators in several southeastern states.

They discussed such international issues as retaining and working against the misappropriation of artists’ work, and preventing infringing products from entering the U.S. marketplace.

Specifically, attachés provided overviews of the Brazilian IP landscape, to include potential pro-artist copyright legislation and discussions regarding the protection and definition of “traditional knowledge.”

There was also a discussion focused on IP in India, the high number of trademark oppositions, and the potential of avoiding such by using copyright injunction, increased geographical indications protection (over 600—the highest in the world), and trade dress protection.

How to benefit from this program

If you’re looking to expand into the international marketplace, reach out early to the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program to gain valuable information about the region’s IP landscape. You’ll get advice on considerations to keep in mind, depending on what your innovation is and which overseas marketplace you’re exploring.

They are available to support innovators at any stage of the IP protection process.

Learn more about the program, use our interactive map to identify IP Attachés by region, and find review case studies to see how they’ve helped others at uspto.gov/ip-policy/ip-attache-program.