Back in 2011, I found out that my company was a victim of intellectual property (IP) theft. Competitors based in China and India were stealing our designs (our IP), manufacturing cheap knock-offs, and shipping low-cost goods into my home state of Maryland. To add insult to injury, they were also jacking the product images from my website and using them on their own sites.
Sound familiar? Today, far too many American manufacturers are victims of IP theft. Sometimes, their own IP is stolen by their overseas competitor. Sometimes, their overseas competitor steals someone else's IP, like a software company's products, to unfairly compete. And often, American manufacturers fall victim in both ways by competitors seeking every advantage, however unfair. These are serious problems that hurt our bottom lines and kill American jobs.
But what many manufacturers don't know is that recently, state Attorneys General have recognized this serious problem. They are using their states' consumer protection statues to take action against overseas manufacturers and protect manufacturers operating in their states. In most states, laws prohibiting unfair business practices give an AG the power to ask state courts to stop the shipment of products made using stolen IP into their state. This is a sledge-hammer against thieving overseas manufacturers which need to sell to the hugely profitable USA market.
For manufacturers that are interested in pursuing a case, help has arrived. The National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation, which I helped cofound with the National Association of Manufacturers, is the first trade association dedicated to addressing IP theft's impact on our industry and to helping find solutions. NAJI can work with you at no cost, like they did with me, to evaluate instances of IP theft, guide you in gathering evidence, and bring your case to the attention of your state's Attorney General.
We can help you stop your cheating competitor, if these facts are present in your case:
1. The offending company's use of stolen IP in their manufacturing processes is causing harm to your company (e.g., revenue lost, jobs eliminated, or jobs not added)
2. Your product(s) and the offending company's product(s) are market competitors (i.e., your products are similar in kind, construction, type, and purpose)
3. The offending company is conducting business in your state (i.e., regularly sells goods into your state or has a facility, subsidiary or distributor/dealer located in your state)
To date, NAJI has presented over half a dozen cases to state AGs. We have just gotten started. Momentum is building and we are seeing results. Overseas, the cases are creating a sentinel effect, warning cheaters that they are not beyond the reach of American law. With each new case, this effect is amplified. But we need more manufacturers to come forward by contacting NAJI. Let's get you and your team some justice so we can grow U.S. jobs.
Special thanks to Ms. Kara Horton, Executive Director, National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation, www.NAJI.org
Check out this video to learn more: