WENY: G20: All Access – Local companies highlight need to combat IP theft

September 04, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG – Intellectual property theft isn’t something that just affects the music and movie industry. G20 countries lose $125 billion every year because of IP theft.

Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro visited four different cities to talk to American companies that want world leaders to protect their interests.

In Michigan, IP theft is a big problem, especially in companies that deal with the automotive industry. Rugged Liner in Owosso is a family-owned business that makes truck bed liners and ships to more than 60 countries.

“It’s something that needs to be addressed over and over because some countries don’t play by the same rules as we do,” said Yannick Greiner, director of international sales at Rugged Liner.

In Ohio, medical device manufacturers are working to prevent their cutting edge ideas from being compromised.

Daavlin, located in Bryan, Ohio, makes an ultraviolet light emitting tool, which is shipped to China. But the company fears someone might steal their design.

“It’s a real worry, and as a small company, I can’t hire lawyers in China and get them to defend our rights so we just have to take what we’re given,” said David Swanson, CEO of Daavlin.

At Upstate Shredding, a scrap yard in Owego, New York, first-of-its kind technology is used to break down metals. That technology is extremely expensive to design and to purchase, so the business owner who uses it wants to make sure it’s safe from IP theft.

“We don’t want people copying the technology we just paid big money for,” said Adam Weitsman, CEO of Upstate Shredding.

Trade consultants in Pennsylvania are paying close attention to intellectual property issues on behalf of their clients who trade all around the world. That’s what Carver International in Erie does– and these workers understand that small manufacturers need someone watching out for their interests.

“For them to make it a proper venture to go overseas, they need those patents and those intellectual property rights protected,” said Gary Carver, CEO of Carver International.

Every company we met with is watching this issue, so we took their concerns here to Capitol Hill, and it got lawmakers talking.

“We’re innovative. We develop. We need to make sure we protect that as we go around the world,” said Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI).

“If you don’t have the mechanisms and the rules to enforce and to protect that intellectual property, that’s a real problem,” said Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY).

“It’s a terribly difficult problem to solve, but we can’t pretend it’s not happening,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

“India, China, and even Russia – there is a problem with them taking American intellectual property,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

“We have to be very careful that we recognize it, call them out for what they’re doing, and make sure we defend our people,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA).

Members of President Obama’s team say he will bring up IP issues at the G20 Summit, especially when meeting with Chinese leaders.

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