Understanding the U.S. Regulatory Environment for Business and Intellectual Property Protection: A Road to U.S. Business Success
June 15, 2016
Arnold Lutzker, Attorney, Lutzker & Lutzker, LLP, Washington, D.C., U.S.A., and Jack Rovner, Attorney, The Health Law Consultancy, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. are proud members of the International Network of Boutique Law Firms.
U.S. Regulatory Schemes. The United States is a federation of States, each with its own government structure and regulatory scheme. The national government has regulatory authority over inter-State commerce, foreign trade and other business activities of national scope and interest. Each State has its own regulatory environment applicable to businesses operating within its territory. There are also local jurisdictions, such as counties, municipalities, and other local political units, that may have regulatory authority over matters such as land-use, zoning, permitting, building codes, sanitation, and the like. Which regulatory schemes may apply to U.S. business operations depends on (a) how the U.S. business is organized; (b) where and how it operates; and (c) what industry it participates in.
Regulations tend to fall into four categories:
- Those generally applicable to all businesses, such as business registration and licensure, tax codes, public health and safety requirements.
- Those generally affecting specific aspects of business operations, such as employee relations, workplace safety, zoning and building codes.
- Those generally focused on particular industries, such as health care, insurance, banking and finance, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.
- Those generally protective of business activities and interests, such as intellectual property protection, due process, and prevention of unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.
These regulatory schemes are readily and affordably manageable with appropriate attention, diligence and competent professional support. Importantly, many regulations benefit business. Intellectual property protection is a prime example.
Intellectual Property Protection. Intellectual Property or “IP” is the product of creativity; it’s what makes your goods and services attractive to consumers. IP consists of:
- Trademarks—words, phrases, symbols, slogans and images that differentiate you from your competitors.
- Copyrights—original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium, such as books, photographs, movies, videos, music, software and art.
- Patents—novel ideas and inventions reduced to practical form.
- Trade Secrets—private data and resources, like formulas and customer lists, that are carefully guarded from public view.
For businesses looking to launch operations in the U.S., these are your prime assets—your IP “Crown Jewels.” Like all precious objects, you must protect them.
The United States, at the federal and State levels, offers a strong legal regime to protect these IP assets, enabling you to exploit them fairly. To do your part, here are three essential steps:
- Conduct an IP Audit Before You Enter the U.S. Take stock of your IP assets and prioritize their worth. Identifying those IP assets that create the greatest value for you will enable your business to thrive.
- Create a Plan for Protection. Once you identify and prioritize your IP Crown Jewels, plan to protect them. This requires two steps. First, register the Crown Jewels with the trademark, copyright and patent authorities in your home country and in the U.S. Second, review all key contracts to ensure that employees, investors and contractors recognize your ownership rights.
- Exercise Diligence. Be watchful. There will be those who covet your IP and will trespass on your rights. In our digital age, IP assets can be stolen with a mouse click. Be diligent in monitoring for infringement or misappropriate of your IP Crown Jewels.
Don’t Fret, Invest. The U.S. regulatory environment is no cause to fret and certainly no reason not to invest in the U.S. Indeed, much U.S. regulation is business beneficial, such as the confidence you can have that U.S. IP law will provide strong remedies for wrongful appropriation or infringement of your IP rights. Competent professional support of attorneys, accountants and other professional advisors is readily and affordably available throughout the United States to guide you to regulatory compliance and ensure that your IP and other key business assets enjoy the full protection of U.S. law. Take confidence that, as you build your business or invest your money in the United States, its regulatory environment, such as its IP laws, can be one of your best allies.