From servers and hard drives to semiconductors and software, Intellectual Property (IP) is a key asset for many high tech companies. Protecting the invention, innovation, research, design and testing involved in creating IP is critical to high tech companies of all sizes, and IP must be closely guarded to protect technological advancements. Threats to IP are many and varied, and come in many different forms -- including gray marketing, counterfeiting, service and warranty fraud and digital IP abuse.
AGMA, a non-profit organization and the largest group solely focused on IP protection in the high-tech industry, is on a mission to hinder threats to IP and render these activities more difficult, undesirable and unprofitable. AGMA's goal is to educate the industry and the public -- sharing and developing best practices in the fight against IP theft. Comprised of the tech sector's most influential companies -- including Avaya®, Cisco®, APC® by Schneider Electric, HP®, IBM®, Microsoft®, QLogic®, Seagate® and more -- AGMA employs a number of tactics, including event speaking, educational initiatives, benchmark studies, industry guidelines, and public policy advocacy.
Advocating for Change
IP theft comes in many shapes and sizes. AGMA has narrowed its focus on the following threats: gray market, counterfeiting, service and warranty fraud and digital IP abuse. These four distinct areas of focus must be closely guarded in order for the high-tech industry to thrive and contribute to economic prosperity, innovation and security. To provide a greater level of support to its members, AGMA has recently appointed industry experts to act as advocates for each of its four focus areas.
AGMA appointed advocates include individuals from prominent member companies including HP, Schneider Electric and Microsoft. A primary responsibility for AGMA Advocates is to drive internal and external initiatives that will bring greater visibility to the issue and arm members with best practices to address the problem. Leveraging their extensive knowledge, AGMA Advocates will also provide a greater level of education to the industry, law enforcement, policy makers and consumers.
According to AGMA president Sally Nguyen, "AGMA has been fighting the good fight against these threats to intellectual property rights since 2001, and we are still the only association that is focused on these issues facing the high-tech industry. Our AGMA Advocates dig deep into their specific areas of focus -- they provide additional resources and knowledge to penetrate the industry and raise awareness. The goal is for members to get the most out their AGMA membership and make them more adept at fighting the problem."
The Issues at a Glance
Gray marketing is the sale of genuine branded products that have been diverted from authorized distribution channels or that have been imported into another country without the consent and knowledge of the brand owner. Counterfeiting is the deliberate attempt to deceive consumers by copying and marketing goods that bear a rights holder's trademark, so that these goods appear to have been placed on the market by the rights holder. Both gray marketing and counterfeiting impact more than just the bottom line -- they can negatively influence brand image, customer loyalty and overall customer satisfaction.
Service and warranty fraud contributes to the gray market, and acts as a conduit for counterfeit goods to infiltrate the authorized supply chain. Finally, due to their intangible nature, digital products can be reproduced at a very low cost and delivered via the Internet across virtually unlimited geographic markets. Therefore, it's easy to see why digital IP represents the most rapidly growing portion of the global economy.