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Manufacturers Join Forces to Tackle IP Theft

By Ideas Lab Staff May 23, 2013

From manufacturing alliances to government initiatives, new tactics have launched to combat IP infringements.

A rising number of U.S. manufacturers are taking new steps to protect their trade secrets and other intellectual property against theft and other infringements, according to a recent IndustryWeek article.

In response to such concerns, the National Alliance for Jobs & Innovation was launched. This coalition of more than 100 companies and trade associations aims to stop unfair competition from the use of stolen intellectual property, which can happen from piracy, counterfeiting, trade secret theft or a number of other tactics. “This theft places the IT industry and law-abiding companies in industries like manufacturing, where IT is a critical component of R&D and production, at a competitive disadvantage,” the organization states on its website.

In an interview with IndustryWeek, Drew Greenblatt, a president of a manufacturing company, said intellectual property theft hurts manufacturing companies in many ways. “Most manufacturers are small to midsize shops that can’t weather the wholesale rip-off of their intellectual property,” he said.

According to the alliance, manufacturers increasingly rely on advanced IT solutions to compete more effectively, but they’re at a disadvantage when competitors are able to steal such technology. “If manufacturing capacity is lost, it could trigger the loss of America’s ability to compete and create the next generation of technologies,” the organization states.

Meanwhile, the White House also has released a strategy to combat IP theft. Among the action items listed in the strategy are enhanced domestic law enforcement operations and improved domestic legislation. In addition, the strategy encourages trade associations and other groups to draft voluntary best practices guidelines for IP protection, Industry Week reports.

The strategy, released in February, also places focused diplomatic efforts to protect trade secrets overseas. “In order to protect American innovation globally, trading partners must treat trade secret theft as a serious issue,” the document states.

In a recent post for Ideas Lab, Stephen Ezell, senior policy analyst with the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, argued that the United States should not enter into new free trade agreements with countries that provide inadequate intellectual property rights protections for U.S. IP rights holders. These countries are listed on the United States Trade Representative’s Office’s Special 301 Report, which addresses a wide range of IP-related trade issues.

“The inability of these trade partners to protect IP rights is particularly damaging to the U.S. economy, because we increasingly depend on the production of knowledge – and IP-intensive products and services,” he said.