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World intellectual property dispute in 19th round

Companies in Ohio that do business internationally may be affected by the ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and 11 other countries over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. The TPP talks, which involve countries lining the Pacific rim, seem to be stuck over intellectual property issues that could lead to business litigation, forcing negotiations into their 19th round. These trade negotiations would be considered game-changers in how the U.S. does business with those parts of the world.

The fight over intellectual property rights covers far more than just music and movies. Patent protection is also involved, which is seen as extremely important to push forward medical innovation both in the U.S. and abroad. Unfortunately for the U.S., countries like India often ignore intellectual property rights; in 2012, they canceled protection for nine U.S. products.

Countries like these are said to ignore international agreements over patent protection and other intellectual property issues so that their own home-grown pharmaceutical industries can thrive. However, patent holders say this is done at the expense of the risk-taking companies and individuals who spend years and billions of dollars in the development of new medicines that are then copied by the offending countries.

Whether a company in Cleveland extends its reach around the globe or just around the block, business litigation is always going to be a fact of life. In cases of business disputes over unfair competition or breach of contract, an attorney may be able to offer valuable advice and services such as researching foreign companies to discover any cultural differences that could present a hurdle to doing business. The lawyer might also be instrumental in litigating product liability claims by showing that a company made a clear effort to ensure its product was safe.

Source: Forbes, "Intellectual Property Rights Matter", Doug Schoen, September 24, 2013

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