January 11, 2018

At CES, Strong IP Protections Safeguard the Jackpot


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – with the promise of IP protections and enforcement against infringement, that is.

This week, thousands of innovative companies and individuals will descend upon Las Vegas with the latest and greatest consumer tech products for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). These innovators rely on strong IP protections – a portfolio of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets – to maintain ownership of their unique ideas and defend their products against malicious copycats.

Without these protections and enforcement against the infringement of these protections, bad actors could take the ideas behind products and sell the products themselves, without having to invest any of the initial research and development. Thus, the original innovator is sapped of profit and is discouraged from continuing his or her innovative activity.

It’s a dangerous cycle that undercuts innovation. It’s also an economic drain. IP theft costs the U.S. up to $600 billion a year, and it costs the global economy even more.

Innovators at CES are no stranger to IP theft. In fact, last year at CES, U.S. marshals raided and shut down a booth at CES blatantly infringing the patent of a fellow exhibitor. The infringer company was hawking a $500 one-wheeled, self-balancing electric skateboard, almost identical to start-up Future Motion’s Onewheel skateboard, retailing at $1,500. The infringing product was a cheap, low-quality knockoff, profiting off of Future Motion’s ingenuity – not to mention the start-up’s $630,000 Kickstarter campaign.

Other businesses aren’t as lucky as Future Motion: some neglect to register their intellectual property, while others are unable to attract proper enforcement against occurring infringement. These businesses find themselves nearly helpless in the face of IP theft.

In the lens of these examples, it’s crucial the exhibitors at CES are prepared: know how to register the intellectual property inherent in your products and know how to report infringement to the proper enforcement officials. Still more important, policymakers must work to further strengthen the global IP system and better equip enforcement agencies to spur an even healthier innovation community.

Because with robust IP architecture in place, innovators at CES – and around the world – can be confident that innovation is worth a gamble.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jared Parks is the director of advocacy and external affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center. 

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