British and American IP Attaché Networks

Tom Duke - UK Attaché in China

Jane Lambert

On 19 Sept 2017 I chaired two seminars on IP rights in China for businesses, lawyers and patent and trade mark attorneys in Yorkshire. One took place in Leeds in the studios of Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre and the other in the Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre. Both were attended by leaders in business, education and the arts including, in particular, Phoenix's artistic director, Sharon Watson, who was about to visit China with a view to bringing her company to that country.

The main speaker at those talks was Tom Duke who is our IP attaché to China and Hong Kong.  Tom is one of four officials who work with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to provide support for UK businesses seeking advice on local IP matters.  The other three are Christabel Koh in Singapore who covers South East Asia, Angelica Garcia in Brazil and Shilpi Mehta Nanda in India. You can obtain information about all those attaches in UK overseas intellectual property attaché network 20 Dec 2017 (IPO website). That page links to two other useful resources: IP protection abroad: country guides and Extension of UK intellectual property rights abroad on the IPO website.

Tom visited Leeds and Barnsley as part of the China IP Roadshow which also toured Edinburgh, Glasgow. Liverpool and Manchester in September.  The US Patents and Trademarks Office also has a network of IP attachés and the latest issue of the Director's Forum blog mentions a similar but somewhat larger roadshow in Dallas (see IP Attachés - Providing Resources to Texas Businesses 29 Dec 2017). Hope Shimabuku, Director of the Texas Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office, wrote:

"During the week of December 4, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel through the Dallas area with several of the USPTO’s intellectual property (IP) attachés, who came here from their international posts in Brazil, China, Kuwait, Mexico, and Thailand to conduct outreach visits to local businesses and stakeholders. These included the Dallas Bar Association and several local Dallas businesses with an interest in learning about our efforts to protect and enforce IP rights abroad through the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program. Outreach activities such as this are conducted by the attachés several times a year. The last one was in Southern California this past October."

As in this country, there appear to have been a half day presentations at which the attachés spoke about their work and some of their successes:

"For example, the IP attaché in Shanghai, Mike Mangelson, recounted how he provided information to a U.S. shoe manufacturer that helped it to enforce its IP rights against local counterfeiters. The situation was successfully resolved when a raid conducted by Chinese authorities resulted in the seizure of more than 1,000 pairs of counterfeit shoes. Another example came from the USPTO’s IP attaché in Kuwait City, Pete Mehravari, who related how introductions made to a senior Kuwaiti Customs official and Kuwait’s Criminal Investigations Department on behalf of a U.S. entertainment company led to the successful resolution of an important trademark enforcement issue."

In Leeds and Barnsley, Tom Duke reported some of his team's successes which were equally impressive.

Because the USA is a much larger country it is hardly surprising that the American attaché programme is more extensive than ours. They cover all the states that we cover plus several that we do not such as Belgium, Kuwait, Mexico, Peru, Russia and Ukraine. The USPTO has a very informative web page on the programme with links to resources on IP in each of the countries covered.  For instance, the page on the IP attaché to Belgium contains the attaché's name, address and contact details, a link to the US Trade Representative's latest report on IP protection around the world and useful websites such as the US Mission to the European Union, the EU's IP and SME page, the EU Intellectual Property Office, the European Patent Office and the WIPO's EU law database. These are resources that anybody can use and I refer to them constantly when researching other countries' intellectual property laws.

Should anyone wish to discuss this article or these resources generally, he or she should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form. Meanwhile, I should like to wish all my readers a happy and prosperous new year.


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