Last Published: 7/7/2016

Consult the following resources to help you protect your intellectual property rights when doing business overseas.

Intellectual Property Protection Organizations

The United States and the European Union share the aim of helping businesses–particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)–protect and enforce their intellectual property rights in foreign markets around the world. The Transatlantic IPR Portal makes it easier to find resources related to intellectual property rights for businesses. These resources have been developed by various government agencies and programs in the United States and the European Union. This website encourages SMEs on both sides of the Atlantic to access a wide range of resources on intellectual property rights (IPR).

The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Overseas Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attaché program was formally instituted in 2006 to to promote high standards of IP protection and enforcement internationally for the benefit of U.S. economic and political interests abroad. Since its creation, the IPR Attaché Program has placed individuals in the following seven countries: Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Russia, and Thailand.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an organization responsible for the administration of 23 international treaties dealing with intellectual property protection. The Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Division of WIPO features case studies and information on commercializing intellectual property. WIPO country profiles include contact information for local IP offices, a repository of domestic IP laws, and treaty membership information for each country.

The Patent Prosecution Highway provides accelerated patent prosecution procedures by sharing information between some country patent offices. It permits each participating patent office to benefit from the work previously done by the other patent office, with the goal of reducing examination workload and improving patent quality. Under PPH, an applicant receiving a ruling from the Office of First Filing (OFF) that at least one claim in an application filed in the OFF is patentable may request that the Office of Second Filing (OSF) fast track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications filed in the OSF. PPH will leverage fast-track examination procedures already available in the OSF to allow applicants in the OSF to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. As of May 25, 2010, the USPTO has eliminated the fee for the petition to make special under the PPH programs. For further information, please see the Federal Register notice

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum of 21 member economies that facilitates economic growth and trade in the Asia-Pacific region. The APEC Intellectual Property Rights Experts' Group (IPEG) coordinates and undertakes the work related to intellectual property rights. APEC also encourages its members to create intellectual property rights service centers to provide information about protection of intellectual property rights. To learn more about these centers, visit APEC's Intellectual Property Rights Service Center. APEC also offers free, secure and simple online business tool to help you identify and protect your IP assets. For more information visit the IP Explorer page.

Investment Climate Statements

Investment Climate Statements provide U.S. firms with country-specific information and assessments prepared by the State Department’s posts abroad on investment laws, measures, and other factors that may be useful in making business decisions. Each investment climate statement contains information on intellectual property rights including a point of contact at the U.S. Embassy. To go directly to the IP information, follow the link below and select a country and Section 7. Property Rights from the dropdown menus. These statements are also included as Chapter 6 in the Department of Commerce’s Country Commercial Guides.

Country Commercial Guides

Country Commercial Guides (CCGs) are prepared annually by U.S. embassies with the assistance of several U.S. government agencies. These reports present a comprehensive look at countries' commercial environments, using economic, political and market analysis. The CCGs were established by recommendation of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), a multi-agency task force, to consolidate various reporting documents prepared for the U.S. business community.