Lost in translation? IP strategies for doing business beyond borders.

Author:Skoy, Jenie
Position:Intallectual Property
 
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Mike Krieger's office on the 18th floor of the Eagle Gate Tower is a clearinghouse for new-fangled devices and gadgets: a bicycle sporting the latest brake technology, a pile of medical contraptions, sleek backpacks and golf bags, and a wooden recliner chair that can roll itself into a ball. If visitors didn't know better, they might imagine Krieger is a techno-packrat. But as a shareholder and intellectual property attorney for Kirton and McConkie, Krieger is point man for those who seek the know-how to protect their ideas in the marketplace. Sometimes inventors have no money to pay, but Krieger says he exchanges his legal services for their prototypes.

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"My garage at home is full of them [inventions]," he says. One of his favorites is a huge, three-person electric scooter on which he drives his kids to school. "I'm known in the neighborhood ... for driving around on some wacky scooter that nobody has seen yet."

Krieger was the trademark attorney for the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. He sees technologies about a year before anyone else, and has helped file patents for technologies from glow-in-the-dark lures to a self-furling sail and a camming device from Black Diamond called Camelot. (It doesn't hurt that he is an avid fly-fisherman, sailor and rock climber either.)

Krieger's clients have plenty of questions for him: "Have I used this invention too long before I came to you?" "Is there a market for this type of product that would justify it?" "I have an idea; can I get a patent on it?" Krieger keeps close tabs on intellectual property laws around the world, which are changing every day. He believes he has the expertise to help scientists or businesspeople see the bigger picture, adding value to the devices they dream-up.

The Complications of Going Global

Intellectual property attorneys get paid to translate the intricacies of international IP laws to help businesspeople successfully expand, while protecting their ideas in the process. Typical risks are more pronounced when businesses move beyond familiar borders, so IP strategies must be carefully planned as a result. There's the expense of enlisting reputable IP attorneys in each country and the need to understand foreign trademark or patent laws and how they are (or are not) enforced. Every nation has its own laws that govern IP, and the laws vary broadly. Rights granted in one country, do not necessarily extend beyond the border.

"Businesses must weigh complex...

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