World Intellectual Property Organization

Secrets of Intellectual Property: A Guide for Small and Medium-sized Exporters

Guide: Secrets of Intellectual Property

About this Guide

Exporters around the world can now benefit from a new practical guide on intellectual property for exporters published this month by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Trade Centre. "Secrets of Intellectual Property: a Guide for Small and Medium-sized Exporters" provides practical guidance on how to deal with some of the most common intellectual property (IP) issues encountered by exporters. This user-friendly guide is written in the form of questions and answers, and contains a large number of references for further reading. It provides an international business perspective on a wide range of key intellectual property issues for exporters.

Complete guide [PDF].  Also in French and Spanish

The Guide explains basic concepts and principles regarding:

  • The protection of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright and related rights, trade secrets and geographical indications.
  • Ownership of IP rights
  • Contracting, licensing and technology transfer
  • Drawing up a business strategy
  • IP rights in export markets
  • Protecting IP abroad
  • Enforcing IP rights
  • Quality, technical regulations and standards
  • Valuation of IP rights
  • Financing
  • Electronic commerce
  • IP in packaging and labeling

The importance of IP rights to exporters often only becomes apparent when they are faced with problems or legal disputes. Such problems usually arise because of a lack of knowledge of the local rules, regulations and laws governing intellectual property. The guide is designed to raise awareness among exporters about steps that need to be taken by them to ensure that their products comply with the IP laws of overseas markets and that these products do not infringe the IP rights of others.

Failure to consider IP rules and regulations in overseas markets when conducting market research, exposes exporters to unnecessary costs and risks which may not only damage the company's entire export strategy but may also threaten its long-term survival.

The guide further outlines steps that should be taken by exporters to adequately protect their own intellectual property assets in target markets in a timely and cost-effective manner. Such measures will enhance their competitive advantage in those markets. By adequately protecting its intellectual property, an export company can defend itself against theft and other IP abuses and can also secure additional revenue streams by exporting their IP without the accompanying product, for example, through licensing agreements. This is the case when a company licenses its protected IP rights, authorizing other companies to manufacture or sell its products, for example, in foreign markets. Such arrangements allow companies to earn additional profit while retaining ownership over their inventions, innovative designs, creative works or trademarks.

"Secrets of Intellectual Property: A Guide for Small and Medium-sized Exporters" is available from the WIPO's e-bookshop.

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