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Globalization and the rapid proliferation of technology have elevated the importance of intellectual property protection for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The intangible nature of intellectual property and the worldwide inconsistency of standard practices create challenges for U.S. businesses wishing to protect their inventions, brands, and business methods in foreign markets. The three most common vehicles for protecting intellectual property are patents, trademarks, and copyrights. This article is intended to provide exporters with a brief overview of intellectual property rights and the methods being employed to protect those rights internationally.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines intellectual property (IP) as
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