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Blog Entries from 2014

Six Steps to Protect Your Brand

Six Steps to Protect Your Brand

A trademark is an essential part of a brand, helping to distinguish a business’s unique products and services from what another business offers. It can be a word, slogan, logo, symbol, design or even a sound. The following six steps from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provide a useful guideline on what to consider before registering a trademark and during the application process. Have an invention? Make sure to protect that too.

1. Determine whether a trademark is even appropriate for you.  Trademarks, patents, copyrights, domain names, and business name registrations all differ.  A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services.  You must be able to identify these goods and services specifically.   A trademark, for example, does not cover a general idea.

2. Select a mark using great care. Before filing a trademark/service mark application, you should consider (1) whether the mark you want to register meets the guidelines for registration, and (2) how difficult it will be to protect your mark based on the strength of the mark selected. Note that the USPTO only registers marks, and the mark owner is solely responsible for enforcement.

3. Always search the USPTO database to determine whether anyone is already claiming trademark rights in wording/design that is similar and used on related goods/services through a federal registration.

4. File the application online through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).  View trademark fee information. REMINDERS: (1) The application fee is a processing fee that is not refunded, even if the USPTO does not ultimately issue a registration certificate, and not all applications result in registrations; and (2) All information you submit to the USPTO at any point in the application and/or registration process will become public record, including your name, phone number, e-mail address, and street address.

5. Because all of the above are very important, you should consider whether to hire a trademark attorney to help you with these steps, as well as the overall application process.

6. Throughout the entire process, you should monitor the progress of your application through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system.  It is important to check the status of your application every 3-4 months after the initial filing of the application, because otherwise you may miss a filing deadline.

For more information on trademarks and to access a variety of helpful resources, including instructional how-to videos, visit the USPTO website.

U.S. Department of Commerce Seeks National Partner to Help Lead New Program to Boost Job Talent Development Across America

Are you ready to join us?

Through the “Accelerating Industry-Led Regional Partnerships for Talent Development” Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) published today, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is now accepting proposals for a national partner to help develop and implement a new learning exchange program that will focus on building critical public-private partnerships to accelerate job skills development across America.

The availability of a skilled workforce is often cited as a primary factor considered by businesses in their investment decision process. The learning exchanges created through this initiative will help meet the skills needs of businesses by identifying, promoting, and expanding on successful industry-driven regional partnerships for talent development. By encouraging such partnerships, the program will help build regional pools of workers with the skills that are in demand by employers in their communities, leading to job creation and increased business investment.

Ensuring that our regions have the skilled workforce they need to keep our businesses strong and our economy growing is a major priority for the Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

At Commerce, Secretary Pritzker, who has met with nearly 1,200 CEOs and business leaders who agree that workforce skills development is an issue that must be addressed, has made improving the linkages between training programs and employer needs a top priority in the Department’s “Open for Business” agenda.

We need dedicated partners to help us accomplish our goals.

So are you ready to join us?

Visit http://www.eda.gov/challenges/rnta-talent/ to get additional information on how to apply for this Federal Funding Opportunity.  

Applications must be submitted electronically via grants.gov and are due by 11:59 p.m. EST. on January 9, 2015

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words – Tory Burch

Chief Executive Officer, Tory Burch; Founder Tory Burch Foundation

With a father who designed his own clothes and a mother who was an actress, fashion was always in Tory Burch’s DNA.

Having worked for world renowned fashion designers including Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang, Burch left her successful career in public relations to raise her three young children. At age 37, she started the Tory Burch company at the kitchen table in her Manhattan apartment. Her vision: to create designs that are both classic and affordable.

From one single storefront on 257 Elizabeth Street, Burch has grown her namesake brand into a fashion empire in less than 10 years. Her company, valued at more than $3.5 billion, now has more than 140 stores in 50 countries and over 2,000 employees. The collection includes ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, accessories, watches, home, fragrance and beauty.

Bloomberg Businessweek describes her as “a shrewd designer and businesswoman”, and the Telegraph describes her as “serene, approachable, wholesomely chic in the great outdoorsy, pragmatic American tradition.” Burch has consistently been included on Forbes’ list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.”

As an entrepreneur and a member of PAGE, Burch has two top priorities: to serve as a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs, and to help young innovators access the capital they need to turn their bright ideas into thriving business enterprises.

Burch created the Tory Burch Foundation (TBF) in 2009 to support the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and their families. It provides women with access to capital, mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as entrepreneurial education.

See video
Read the transcript: 
Tory Burch - In Her Own Words

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Concludes Trip to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit

Deputy Secretary Andrews meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh

This week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews concluded his four-day trip to Beijing, China for the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and the APEC CEO Summit 2014. Deputy Secretary Andrews met with numerous CEOs and business leaders. He represented the Department of Commerce which promotes stronger U.S. economic and commercial ties in the Asia-Pacific.

To help promote foreign investment in the United States, Deputy Secretary Andrews participated in a roundtable focused on innovation and investment, along with Secretary of State John Kerry and CEOs from nine of China's most influential companies.

Deputy Secretary Andrews also moderated a business ethics roundtable, focusing on the importance of public-private partnerships in raising ethical standards in the healthcare industry. He briefed attendees on the progress made to date and discussed how governments and industry can work together to ensure continued progress.

Deputy Secretary Andrews held successful bilateral meetings with officials from various countries, including the Vietnamese Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh and the Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed. In their conversations, he reiterated the U.S. commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the benefits that would come out of both countries.

U.S. Census Bureau Announces Nearly 8 in 10 Americans Have Access to High-Speed Internet

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An estimated 78.1 percent of people in U.S. households had a high-speed Internet connection last year, according to a new report released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. However, digital divides exist among the nation’s metropolitan areas and demographic groups.

These statistics come from the American Community Survey, which collected data on this topic for the first time in 2013 and is the largest survey used to examine computer and Internet use in the U.S.

Although most Americans have access to computers and high-speed Internet, differences in high-speed Internet use were as large as 25 percentage points between certain age and race groups, while divides between specific income and educational attainment groups were as large as 45 percentage points. In addition, among the nation’s metro areas, Boulder, Colo., had one of the highest rates of high-speed Internet use at 96.9, while Laredo, Texas, had one of the lowest rates at 69.3 percent.

The report released today, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013, includes analysis of household computer ownership and Internet use by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, income and education. It covers areas of the country with populations larger than 65,000.

“These new statistics show how the American Community Survey gives communities the information they need on both computer and Internet access for their residents,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “As the Census Bureau continues to move more surveys online to reduce respondent burden, these statistics inform us of areas that have high and low Internet use. These statistics also provide the information communities and federal agencies need to make decisions to improve and expand broadband Internet access for all Americans.”

For the full release and report, please visit http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2014/cb14-202.html

Connecting Entrepreneurs to the Global Marketplace

Connecting Entrepreneurs to the Global Marketplace

The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration works hard to help companies that are ready to export compete and succeed in global markets.

We want to emphasize that it’s never too early for entrepreneurs to start thinking about exporting – determining financing needs, targeting markets, conducting research, etc.

As we’ve worked with global startups, we’ve learned it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to connect to existing resources to help them go global. We realize that start-ups differ in their capabilities at various stages of the business development process, but want to help young businesses incorporate export plans into their business model as early as possible.

One great way to get started is to be a part of ExporTech, which can help your company develop its export plan, then have it vetted by a panel of experts. More than 575 companies have participated in Exportech, with an average sales increase or retention of $770,000.

Here are four more tips for the busy entrepreneur to help address specific needs to start exporting:

  1. Secure access to capital: Many local and state governments have seed capital and investment programs just for their states’ entrepreneurs and startups. Many states have small business development programs or startup-specific outreach programs designed to assist entrepreneurs to access capital- as well as educate them on best practices. On the federal level, there is the Small Business Administration, which has programs like the U.S. Small Business Investment Company program. A list of other loans directed towards helping small businesses go global can be found here.
  2. Secure your Intellectual Property: In order to increase the confidence a startup requires for going global, we need to ensure they know about what our U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is doing to protect American start-up’s intellectual property. Here are five simple steps to get started, and you can find more information at stopfakes.gov.  
  3. Do your Research. One important thing you need to figure out is the right target market for your exports. Understand the market trends and figure out your company’s competitive advantage. You can find market research reports on export.gov or by visiting your nearest Export Assistance Center. Here are some other important questions you should answer from the start.
  4. Find the Right Partners. Every market is different, and having a good partner on the ground -- whether it’s your legal representation, a distributor, or a sales representative – can make a huge difference in your company’s success. Consider ITA’s Gold Key Matchmaking Service to help you find the right partner for your needs.

By helping America’s high-growth start-ups go global, trade will become a broader part of doing business in the United States. The International Trade Administration and the Department of Commerce are committed to enabling our next generation of globally fluent businesses.

Contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to get started.

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Accessing Census Bureau Statistics

U.S. Census Apps

If you are thinking of starting a new business, one of the first things you need is information to understand market conditions. Entrepreneurs rely on American Community Survey and Economic Census data to understand local markets, the local workforce, commuting patterns and economic activity in prospective new locations to make investment decisions that create jobs and grow the economy. 

You may already know that the U.S. Census Bureau has a wealth of information that can be invaluable to entrepreneurs. But how do you get started? We have several tools that make it easy to find the statistics you need to start or grow your business. Here are four tools you can begin using today and one that is coming soon. 

1. QuickFacts

Many times, you may just need to know a quick fact such as the population or demographic makeup of a state or county. With our QuickFacts tool, you can find current population estimates, key demographic statistics from the American Community Survey, and economic statistics from selected Census Bureau economic programs. A soon to be released beta version of the tool allows for comparison of these data across geographic areas as well as expanded visualizations of these data.

2. Census Explorer

One of our newest tools, Census Explorer provides an interactive map of various demographic topics for states, counties and census tracts. For example, Census Explorer: Retail Edition includes statistics on retail trade in America from County Business Patterns, including the growing online shopping market. You can find information on the number of businesses, employment and average annual payroll per employee for every county in the U.S.  Other editions of Census Explorer display population estimates or topics from the American Community Survey, such as commuting information, education and income.

Connecting Minority Serving Institutions with Research and Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Earlier this month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) hosted a special event for minority serving institutions to foster collaborations that could increase minority participation in scientific research and entrepreneurship. Representatives from large and small colleges and universities across the country gathered to learn about NIST’s national research priorities and about “lab-to-market” opportunities from both NIST and the MBDA.

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo explained why the event was timely in her opening remarks when she said, “Wealth creation is happening in the high technology sector, but only four percent of those businesses are minority owned. Minority serving institutions are not only positioned to educate scientists and engineers, but to create partnerships for the businesses of tomorrow.”

Attendees learned about the many opportunities for partnering with NIST from Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May, who explained the importance of collaboration to NIST’s world-class research. NIST collaborates with a number of organizations and institutions of higher learning as it addresses national priorities including cybersecurity, manufacturing, communications, forensics, disaster resilience and healthcare and bioscience. “Last year, we provided about $200 million in grants to institutions of higher education that can collaborate with us and assist us in carrying out our mission,” said May.

May highlighted the variety of opportunities at NIST for undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral, associate and visiting researchers. Of NIST’s approximately 1,600 associate researchers who come from academia, about one quarter are from Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Minority Serving Institutes (MSIs).

The event was initiated by George Cooper, director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), who said he realized there was great potential at NIST for supporting partnerships between HBCUs and the federal government.

Day two’s agenda focused on moving research and technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace. Participants learned about the federal government’s role in technology transfer and the Lab-to-Market Programs in NIST’s Technology Partnerships Office and the MBDA’s San Francisco Business Center. A panel discussion including representatives from industry and non-profit and advocacy groups that support emerging businesses offered best practices for getting from lab to market.

Throughout the event, participants were encouraged to develop relationships not only with NIST and the MBDA, but also with one another. As Cooper put it, their partnerships could “leverage the strengths of multiple institutions” to increase engagement with federal agencies.

Commerce Secretary Pritzker Announces Four U.S. Organizations Honored With 2014 Baldrige National Quality Award

 Commerce Secretary Pritzker Announces Four U.S. Organizations Honored With 2014 Baldrige National Quality Award

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that four U.S. organizations are recipients of the 2014 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. 

The 2014 Baldrige Award recipients—listed with their category—are:

An independent board of examiners recommended this year’s Baldrige Award recipients from a field of 22 applicants after evaluating them in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. An organization may compete for the award in one of six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education and nonprofit (including government agencies).

Thousands of organizations worldwide use the Baldrige Criteria to guide their operations, improve performance and get sustainable results.

The criteria, which are regularly updated, help organizations reach their goals, improve results and become more competitive by aligning plans, processes, people, decisions and actions vital to achieving ongoing success. More than 30 independent Baldrige-based award programs covering nearly all 50 states. Internationally, the program has served as a model for nearly 100 excellence programs.

From 2010-2013, Baldrige Award applicants represented nearly 500,000 jobs, more than $77 billion in revenue and budgets, and more than 400 million customers served.

A December 2011 study measuring the Baldrige Program's value to U.S. organizations conservatively estimated a benefit-to-cost ratio of 820 to 1, while a 2011 report by Truven Health Analytics found that health care organizations that have won or been in the final review process for a Baldrige Award outperform other hospitals in all but one metric the company uses to determine its "100 Top Hospitals" in the nation (and were six times more likely to be among the top 100). A study of the six organizations to win two Baldrige Awards found that for the years between awards their median growth in revenue was 93 percent and the median growth in jobs was 66 percent. The job growth was significantly higher than the average growth in jobs of 2.5 percent for matched industries and time periods.

Deputy Secretary Andrews Promotes SelectUSA and Fostering Foreign Investment at APEC in Beijing

SelectUSA Investment Summit March 23 and 24, 2015

This past weekend at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing, Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews participated in a roundtable with some of China’s most influential business leaders to discuss fostering investment and innovation in the world’s two largest economies – the United States and China.

Hosted by the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry, the roundtable stressed the importance of cooperation between the United States and China to expand economic opportunities in both countries and strengthen global growth.  Other U.S. government officials in attendance included Ambassador Max Baucus, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rifkin, and Deputy USTR Ambassador Robert Holleyman.

During the discussion, Deputy Secretary Andrews promoted further foreign investment in the United States by explaining the importance of SelectUSA, the first-ever U.S. government-wide effort to promote, attract, retain, and expand business investment to and within the United States. Created by President Obama and led by the Department of Commerce, the inaugural SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC transformed into a sold-out event with more than 1,300 participants, including representatives of 450 foreign or multinational firms from 60 different markets. With China as the fastest growing source of direct investment in the United States, Deputy Secretary Andrews also recognized the positive contribution of China’s growing investment position.

With this in mind, Deputy Secretary Andrews extended an invitation to attend the next SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC from March 23-24, 2015.

After Deputy Secretary Andrews spoke, the Chinese business leaders provided brief overviews of their companies and experiences investing in the United States.

This discussion underscored the U.S. government’s openness to investment from China and how a transparent and fair investment climate in China could help foster a healthy and positive economic bilateral relationship.

APEC is central to U.S. economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, serving as the leading forum for facilitating trade and investment and promoting economic growth in one of the most dynamic regions in the world. The Department of Commerce’s participation in many APEC issues – including business ethics, cross border data privacy, disaster risk reduction, and oceans – reflects its commitment to strengthening collaboration with Asian economies in a range of sectors, and reflects the President’s message of support for existing multi-lateral institutions in Asia.