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Women In Exporting Part 4 Intellectual Property Rights

Welcome to Export Nation. This is part four of our four part series on women in exporting. On this episode we listen in on a conversation led by Jessica Gordon, the director of the U.S. Commercial Service office in Dallas-Fort Worth. She’s joined by Hope Shimabuku, Regional Director of the Texas Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO to discuss protecting intellectual property rights, securing patents and trademarks as well as the role the USPTO plays in the U.S. Economy.

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Episode Transcript


Evan Scritchfield: ES | Jessica Gordon: JG | Hope Shimabuku: HS

ES (0:02):

Welcome to Export Nation. This is part four of our four part series on women in exporting. On this episode we listen in on a conversation led by Jessica Gordon, the director of the U.S. Commercial Service office in Dallas-Fort Worth. She’s joined by Hope Shimabuku, Regional Director of the Texas Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO to discuss protecting intellectual property rights, securing patents and trademarks as well as the role the USPTO plays in the U.S. Economy.

The views and opinions expressed by the guests of Export Nation are those of the individual themselves, they do not necessarily reflect official policies or positions of the United States Government, U.S. Department of Commerce or any sub agency. The United States Government, U.S. Department of Commerce or any sub agency additionally do not endorse any websites, programs, products, or services mentioned by a guest.

JG (1:05): Greetings from Dallas Texas, I’m Jessica Gordon your host for today. I would like to thank our listeners for joining us for today’s women in exporting episode to discuss intellectual property protections. I’ve been looking forward to today’s discussion as I am joined by a very special guest, Hope Shimubuku, The Director of the Texas regional United States patent and trademark office, USPTO. Welcome Hope.

HS (1:33) Hi Jessica, glad to be here.

JG (1:36) Absolutely. Glad to have you. I’d like to start off sharing a bit on Hope’s background. Hope carries out the strategic direction of the undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO and is responsible for leading the Texas regional office. Focusing on the region and actively engaging the community. Hope ensures the USPTO initiatives and programs are tailored to the regions unique ecosystem of industries and stakeholders. Hope brings to the USPTO nearly two decades of experience as an engineer and intellectual property attorney. Most recently she was part of the Office of General Council at Xerox Corporation serving as Vice President and corporate council responsible for all intellectual property matters for Xerox Business Services, LLC. She also worked for Blackberry Corporation, advising on U.S. and Chinese standard setting, cyber security, technology transfer and intellectual property laws and legislation. As an engineer she worked for Proctor and Gamble and Dell Computer Corporation. Wow. So glad to have you today Hope.

Today’s topic is so important to businesses and exporters because protecting a company’s intellectual property is critical to its ability to grow and expand, compete, innovate and to protect their brand

reputation both domestically and internationally. I was preparing for today’s conversation and I was reading a report the USPTO conducted a follow-up on a 2019 report: Progress and Potential, A Profile on Women Inventors with U.S. Patents. Can you tell us a bit about this report and what the USPTO is doing for female innovators?

HS (3:23) Yes, thank you Jessica and thank you very much for having me here and I agree that it is very important for us to discuss this topic. As well as our recent report. In February of 2019 the USPTO release a report called Progress and Potential: A Profile of Women Inventors on US Patents. It showed that women still comprise a small minority of patent inventors. Women own close to ten million businesses accounting for one point four trillion dollars in receipts. However, women’s participation in STEM fields and the IP system lags far behind their male counterparts. In the U.S. women make up less than one quarter of the STEM workforce. However, the participation rate of women in STEM occupations is still higher than the rate at which they invented patented technology. So what does this mean? The talent is there, but it is being under-utilized. In July of this year the USPTO released Progress and Potential 2020, an update on U.S. Women Inventor Patents, a follow-up to its 2019 report. The report’s numerous findings include; more women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before. The number of patents with at least one woman inventor increased twenty point seven percent from 2016, to twenty one point nine percent by the end of 2019. The woman inventor rate, the share of U.S inventors receiving patents who are women, increased from twelve point one percent in 2016 to twelve point eight percent in 2019. The share of women among new inventor issues patents increased from sixteen point six percent in 2016 to seventeen point three percent by 2019. One of the reasons stated in the report for the difference in percentages is that the increase in participation is coming mostly from mix gender teams, rather than female only teams. This is positive because it represents collaboration and participation as a whole in larger teams.

However, overall their innovative potential is still not being fully utilized. The gender gap and the number of women inventors that remain active within five years of receiving a patent is decreasing. For the most recent group of new inventors, forty six percent of women patented again within the next five years verses fifty two percent of men. These numbers show the efforts to increase the participation of women in the intellectual property system continues to yield result, however the USPTO is keen on continuing to make sure we maintain our nations edge as a global innovation leader. And we need even broader participation in patenting. So there are several things that the USPTO is doing to help encourage female inventors and one of those includes forming The National Council of American Innovation and expanding innovation. That council is a group of corporate leaders who are coming together to talk about how we can expand innovation, in particularly in this demographic. I am happy to say that we have a kick off meeting coming later this year, specifically later this month in September, and they will begin this very important discussion.

The USPTO also has a number of outreach events to underrepresented groups, as that is also a top priority. There are a number of IP education and training events with industry and academia that we use to expand participation in the innovation ecosystem. We are also emphasizing specific programs with in the USPTO and the federal government as well Including USPTO federal women’s program, USPTO Hispanic employment program as well as the US individual veterans with disabilities program are all special emphasis programs that we are using to expand the entire innovation ecosystem.

JG (7:36): Wow, hope that was some really good information. I was really trying to listen carefully and I wanted to pull out some of those stats. I heard you say that the number of patents with at least one woman inventor increase from 20.7% in 2016 to 21.9% in 2019. I also heard you say that women have become more active in the Patent system but there is still more work to be done. And that mix gendered teams have helped contribute to this. You mentioned collaboration and making sure that women owned businesses get connected and women entrepreneurs get connected to the right resources.

HS(8:17): Absolutely. And we have found that those women who have patented before tend to patent again. And those that have patented before are leaders in their industry as they lead other women who are looking to break new ground in those industries. They feel a lot more confident that someone else has come before them. So there’s always someone that has to be the first. So we encourage women to be in that leadership position so that they can be the first in their group to move forward in that direction.

JG(8:50): Yes, because small businesses are so important to our nation’s economy. So I want to ask you what are some IP protections afforded to entrepreneurs and small businesses and how does USPTO contribute to that?

HS (9:05): We have noticed that intellectual property and the economy is tied very closely together. There is almost a symbiotic relationship that’s associated with that. So when small businesses are investing in intellectual property the economy tends to do well as well as vice versa. Right now what we know is that intellectual property accounts for almost 40% of the nations GDP. So intellectual property, with a small business is thinking about it should really be part of any business strategy. Like real property, intellectual property is an asset to your business. You can sell it, you can rent it out, we call that licensing intellectual property you can give it to somebody else. Intellectual property, like I said it’s like real property, it is property so intellectual property, when a small business is thinking about it should really be part of any business strategy. It is an asset to your business. So thinking of it that way, economically and statistically we know that businesses and entrepreneurs are 70% more likely to secure funding through investors and angel funding if you have strong IP as the back bone of your small business.

The US PTO is the organization that provides patents and trademarks, which are two of the buckets of intellectual property. Those are the two intellectual property buckets that are afforded to inventors and small businesses. For a patent do you have an invention or a new widget that you’ve created or a new process that you have developed a patent is the intellectual property protection that is the protection that is afforded to a small businesses.

The trademark is the name of your company, the logo, the name of your product. The thing that customers identify as what you’re selling and the services that you provide. That is what a trademark is. And the US PTO provides nationwide protection if you apply with us for that particular trademark. Now some of the other services that we provide, we provide many IP Education classes, and we allow anyone in the community to join in those. We currently offer many of those virtually so online as well. Those are a great way for you to find out and learn more about intellectual property and the things that you can do and how to apply, the fees that are associated. All of those things or afford it as part of the IP education programs that we have.

JG (11:50): That’s so helpful, just mentioning that intellectual property contributes to 40% of the nation’s GDP, that’s pretty significant and often the conversation with companies when talking about intellectual property protection is what should I be protecting. Thanks for mentioning the different types of intellectual property. We talked about this on a national level or domestic level. When taking their business abroad, exporting or manufacturing, What should small businesses think about in terms of IP protection?

HS (12:20): That’s a really good question. When it comes to intellectual property and on the international front we’re thinking of it as a whole nother game because intellectual property as well as going international is an expensive proposition. You want to think about this very strategic whenever you are going overseas. First of all, you do want to consider all the export laws. There are a lot of export laws, what can be sold, what technology can be exported Outside of the United States. Many other things that are currently associated with export laws. So after taking in the consideration of that there are a couple of questions that you want to ask yourself when you’re going international. Where and what are you selling and or manufacturing? Is that a core technology part of your business And what will happen if someone knocks it off? And do you have the financial ability to be able to enforce it whenever someone knocks you off? So when someone knocks you off that means that they have infringed on your intellectual property. Some thing that you have owned. If you were going international you have to think about where you’re placing your businesses, who you’re working with, whether you trust that relationship to make sure that they are not stealing your technology and stealing your intellectual property, or the name or the Goodwill that you have developed based on your trademark and are you going to be able to enforce it. So there are a lot of places that you can go, and actually the USPTO provides resources for those businesses who are considering going overseas. We have A group of individuals called intellectual property attaché’s, and they sit in the various consulate offices as well as the embassies around the world. Their job is to make sure that US companies are able to protect their intellectual property overseas In the different countries that they’re thinking about going to do business. They have connections with the other members of the embassies as well. So for example if you’re going to go overseas and you were looking for a manufacture for your goods or you are entering into a new market and you don’t have any contacts, you don’t know who to trust and who not to trust, who are the attorneys and groups of people that we should be working with to best protect your intellectual property, they can help facilitate the contacts and be able to work with you as you are going overseas so you know that you were protected. Understand that these folks are there to help you as a small business and as a business person trying to do work overseas and they have your best interest at heart. What I would say is utilize that resource, you can find their contact information on our website at USPTO.gov.

JG (15:27): That was some really good information. I’m glad that you mentioned the intellectual property attaches. I do want to mention to that the USPTO in the International Trade Administration, ITA work together with the intellectual property enforcement coordinator, and other US government agencies involved in intellectual property rights enforcement to help businesses secure and enforce intellectual property rights in the United States and in foreign markets. The ITS office of standards maintains our site that is full of courses, Stopfakes.gov. With stopfakes.gov it really is a one stop shop for US government tools and resources on intellectual property rights. On the site one will find a number of resources to educate and assist businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises as well as consumers, government officials, and just the general public. On the site I’ve noticed that they have IPR

tool kits, country and industry resources. They have a list of events, what they called roadshows and they are designed for companies and entrepreneurs, creators and inventors. I understand that these road shows, participants learned so much. They receive information on a wide range of topics, including identify and protecting the various types of intellectual property assets, just as Hope mentioned, as well as mechanisms for obtaining IP protections in overseas markets. And help with identifying strategies and where to seek protections And the value of copyright and trade secrets protections. So they are shifting a bit, I understand that they are going to have a series of webinars this month and next month. So to check that out please visit Stopfakes.gov.

So Hope now I understand that USPTO announced a partnership with the National Crime Prevention Council. Can you tell us a little bit about the Go For Real Campaign and why it’s so important to combat counterfeits?

HS (17:24): Yes, counterfeits is a huge problem around the world and particularly for US businesses because it interferes not only with international trade but it interferes with the economy itself and in some cases it can be fairly dangerous especially if you have counterfeit medications or baby formula as in some cases. It is a huge deal and something that we want to make sure that we’re making people aware of and educating on the dangers of counterfeit goods. So USPTO has partnered with the national crime prevention council and it is a public awareness campaign against trademark counterfeiting. The go for real campaign actually aims to help young teenagers and their parents to understand that counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. So for many places and many crime organizations especially within the United States counterfeiting is considered a starter crime. So there are lower penalties for jail time and fines and things that are associated with that. Many criminal organizations will place new criminals in the counterfeit rings. With that ends up leading to is that they will be doing harder crimes later on. Things that will lead to crimes that are more dangerous. At the other end, the consumer or those who are recipients of counterfeit goods they are receiving fraudulent medication, fraudulent baby formula, They are also receiving fraudulent products that are not up to the quality of the actual goods. There are things in materials that are included in there that can blow up or will explode and they’re not working properly and at the end of the day it becomes a very dangerous consumer product that is received. The cost of counterfeiting is actually really difficult to quantify but it is high. The international chamber of commerce Forecast that the value of domestically produced and consumed counterfeit and pirated goods could range from $524-$959 billion dollars by 2022. And while dollars lost to our general economy may not resonate with all consumers another number may strike closer to home. The international chamber of commerce projects that net jobs losses of 4.2 to 5.2 million by 2022. The director of the European observatory recently provided a stark and compelling data point. The tax revenue loss to counterfeits in 2016 would have been enough to build 33 full-fledged hospitals for 500 people in the EU. And in today’s day and age that is huge.

JG (20:39): Wow, I heard you say that the value of pirate goods ranges anywhere from $524-$959 billion dollars? Wow, that is significant. So when you talk about these type of products, you mentioned medicines and food products I think about how dangerous that can be and how harmful that can be. So now can you discuss resources? Because I think I hear you saying not only do businesses and entrepreneurs get involved in this arena but the general public as well. There’s so many different stakeholder Involved when it comes to intellectual property. So can you discuss US PTO resources available to small businesses, independent inventors?

HS (21:37): Absolutely. We actually provide a wealth of resources because we understand that IP can be the single greatest asset for the future of a company. The resources that we provide many of them are available for free For the general public to use. And a lot of them are located on our USPTO website. On our landing page for USPTO.gov on the front page on the right hand side we have a new section that is called new to IP. That particular section talks about the different intellectual property buckets as I mentioned earlier. It talks about patents and trademarks but it also talks about two other intellectual property buckets That our office is not responsible for one is copyright which the US copyright office is responsible for granting that right and then trade secrets. None of the offices manage that why? Because it’s a secret so you don’t want to file it publicly but it talks about the advantages of having each of those intellectual property buckets in your IP portfolio and when you want to use them to structure your businesses. So there’s information related to that, How much it cost to file applications with our office, with patents and trademarks and a wealth of other resources that are associated with that, including IP programs that are being provided by our office. Some of them in collaboration with Jessica’s organization as well. A couple of the resources that we provide as the USPTO, we understand that I pay protection is very important but it can also be very expensive especially for new companies That may not have the capital to file for protection. We have set up what we call the patent pro bono program, which allows for attorneys to volunteer their time for those that may otherwise not be able to afford it. You do have to fall below a certain income threshold. That income threshold is 300% above the minimum poverty level. So you do have to be below that line. But if you qualify for that then you can have access to any of those pro bono resources. Another option is to look into law school clinics across the country. We have worked with a number of law schools to be able to provide similar pro bono services on patent as well as the trademark front. The difference between a law school clinic versus a Patent pro bono clinic is that a law school clinic has law students that are working under the supervision of an attorney. As opposed to the patent pro bono program is an actual attorney that’s practicing that’s going to be working on your case. Both of them are excellent resources. The nice thing about the law school clinics is they are not subject to the statutory salary restrictions as the patent pro bono program is. So they have more flexibility to offer services to those who may not necessarily fall into that particular group but still need help. A couple of the resources that we provide is we have partnered with 80 different library’s around the country. And with those library’s we have set up what we call patent and trademark resource centers, in which the librarians there have been trained to be able to provide you with the information on intellectual property. At those library’s there are certain workstations and certain computers that have access to the same database that our patent examiners and our trademark examiners have access to. It is a much broader resource then you would be able to find if you were just typically online doing an Internet search. This is the actual tool that our employees actually use to search to identify if something has been invented in the past or if someone else has utilize that name or that particular logo for their business or product that they are selling already. The library is a great resource for you if you are not able to make it to one of the four regional offices in Detroit, Denver, Dallas, or in the Silicon Valley area. Or our headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. This is a great alternative for you to get access to some additional resources. The IP attaché, as I had mentioned before is a great resource we also have one 800 numbers With the USPTO in which you can get inventor assistance as well as trademark assistance. If you are working through your applications and you have questions or have questions about intellectual property in general that is a great way for you to call and all of this information and all of this contact information can be found at USPTO.gov. One of the other things that I do want to point out are several of our specific programs associated with reduced filing fees. As I

mentioned before, recognize that intellectual property is an investment, and an expensive investment at times. What we have done is provide reductions for small businesses as well as what we would call micro entities. So a small business follow the same definition as the SBA in which you have 500 employees or less, if you are in that realm did you qualified as a small business. Micro entities, is an entity or an individual that does not have more than five patents in which they are listed as an inventor. If that’s the case or it’s a small business then you qualify for a 50% reduction in our filing fees, as a micro entity with five or less patents in which you were listed as an inventor you qualify for a 70% reduction. Now these reductions are for the patent side and not for the trademark side the Patent side is generally a little more expensive When you’re actually filing and preparing the upfront cost tends to be a little bit more. The last thing that I wanted to mention is some of our other pilot programs. One is for COVID-19 prioritizing examination pilot program in that we have offered support for inventors who have new programs, whether that be a patent application or a trademark or a service application that is related to a COVID-19 technology. If you do have that particular Technology and you are a small or micro entity as I mentioned earlier did you qualify for this and your application will be reviewed out of turn and it will be expedited. On the Patent side it could be as quickly as six months or for the trademark it will be immediately assigned and as quick as 1 to 2 months. So that’s an option for those who are needing IP protection quickly in today’s day and age. A couple other Things is we do have pilot programs that allow you, if you are older, if you are 65 years or older or have a health condition but you have an application that needs to be expedited that’s another option for you as well as a small business to be able to push that forward and get your patent protection as quickly as possible. The last thing that I wanted to point out is the patents for partnerships platform. That is a platform that we launched earlier this year, in response to the COVID-19 efforts that were going on. There was a lot of technology that was being developed by independent inventors as well as small and micro entities and it is a mechanism for those independent inventors and small entities to let others know about the pattens or the potential patents to licensee so they can identify a good technology fit. Currently we have this platform sitting on our website, you can get there on our website and you can have your patent or patent application as well as the potential licensing terms that you were willing to license those particular technologies out and you can list them on our website. It is free there is no cost you just have to fill out a form so that you could have that information uploaded and we have almost 900 patent applications currently listed there. So if that is something of interest to you, it has been failing fairly popular for even our federal government partners as well as many universities and small businesses who want to advertise the technology and let other people know that this may be something that they could utilize in their own businesses and that’s a great opportunity for them as well. One last thing I want to point out, as I mentioned before we do have many many education programs out there to help you as an adventure or as a small business owner to be able to navigate the IP system. In my office alone every month we have what we call me to Patent experts and meet the trademark experts. It’s a series of trainings to allow you to work through the patent process but also to answer your questions if you have any With respect to those processes with the folks within my office or the USPTO. So all of that information can be found at USPTO.gov and our website lists all of those events and resources that are available to you. That’s it Jessica.

JG (32:13): Wow, Hope that was Some really good resources thanks for so much for sharing those resources you talked about so much and I think what really stood out to me was the patent and trademark centers. It sounds like in those centers pick up people can come in and they have almost the same resources that the patent and trademark examiners have. He also talked about meet the patent and trademark experts and so many programs that I think would be very helpful to companies. Once

again those resources can be found on USPTO’s website at USPTO.gov. We talked about so much today I also want to mention stopfakes.gov to request assistance with an IPR issue or problem it will give you a list of the various US government agency is responsible for protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights and preventing counterfeit or pirate goods from entering the market I encourage all of our listeners to check out stopfakes.gov/IPR-assistance.

This has been a great conversation today. Hope, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and insight and those valuable resources with us.

HS (33:27): Thank you so much Jessica for having me.

JG (33:29): We’d also like to thank our listeners for joining us today if you enjoy today’s program You are certainly going to want to check out the US Commercial Services Virtual Women’s Global Trade Empowerment forum, as we are gearing up for our fifth and sixth sessions September 10 where our speakers are going to discuss global strategy for success, compliance, contracts and global governance. You will certainly want to join our final session on September 22, where our expert speakers will discuss How to protect your most valuable asset intellectual property, as we talked about today. You will also be able to hear from the Director of the Office of Standards and Intellectual Property, the intellectual property attaché from the US Embassy in Mexico City and I’ve heard that we’re going to have the pleasure of hearing from a very special keynote speaker, Aveda Carranza, the United States small business administration administrator. We think USPTO for their support and collaboration on the women’s forum as well and to learn more about the women’s forum we encourage our listeners to visit our website at www.trade.gov/women’s global trading power forum. And follow us on social media on the US commercial service LinkedIn page and follow the #WomensGlobalTradeForum. Thanks For Joining Us Today.

ES (34:51): The International Trade Administration and U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service are temporarily reducing or eliminating the costs of several of their export services, providing relief to U.S. businesses affected by COVID-19. These efforts are intended to encourage the export of non-COVID-19-treatment-related “Made in the USA” products around the world in this moment of economic transition and recovery. For U.S. companies that produce goods or services for export, the USFCS is authorized to reduce user fees and services by up to 100 percent for U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises and economic development organizations, and by up to 50 percent for large U.S. companies. Reduced fees will be provided until September 30, 2020. For more information, please contact your local USEAC or visit us at www.trade.gov