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Regional News

Managing intellectual property in a global marketplace

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Syracuse University
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Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), left, and Syracuse University Law Professor Lisa Dolak speak at a roundtable discussion on intellectual property in Syracuse

The issue of intellectual property has become more complicated for businesses that find themselves in  global marketplaces in a digital world.  Patents, copyrights and trademarks are coming under fire from many fronts, and it’s affecting innovation, creativity and job growth in central New York.

Air Innovations is a Syracuse company that designs and manufactures specialty air conditioning for niche industries.  President and CEO Michael Wetzel says they’ve had run-ins, regarding intellectual property, in one of the countries they do business with.

“We have a particular situation in China, where our own distributor filed our name, and then tried to charge us to use our name in their country,” said Wetzel. “And it’s tough as a small company. We’re innovating products, we’re not lawyers.”

When a company has to file for protection of a patent in every country it deals with, the bills add up, says Syracuse University law expert Lisa Dolak.

“They’re putting dollars into enforcing intellectual property rights in regimes that don’t respect those rights,” said Dolak. “And those are dollars that could be going into research and development and jobs in this country.”

Dolak moderated a roundtable in Syracuse to shine a light on this kind of idea theft. She says it’s clear that this kind of infringement on patents, copyrights and trademarks is an economic issue.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that almost 38 percent of the jobs in New York state are the direct or indirect result of intellectual property, or IP. Rep.  John Katko (R-Camillus) says there is some federal government help from the cybersecurity bill, but he says Washington can do more.