A few weeks ago, I met with Pamela Passman, President and CEO of The Center for Responsible Enterprise And Trade (CREATe.org), “a non-profit organization dedicated to helping companies and their suppliers and business partners reduce counterfeiting, piracy, trade secret theft and corruption.” Previously, Ms. Passman was Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft and before that she was their Associate General Counsel for the Far East. As one would expect, we discussed various supply chain issues relating to China. I was hugely impressed with the importance of what Create.org is doing and with what it has already accomplished and I thought it would be great for Ms. Passman to explain Create.org via a guest post on our blog, which is exactly what follows:
By: Pamela Passman
If you work with global supply networks, it’s likely you ask the question: are our suppliers and business partners abiding by the agreed-upon contractual obligations to protect our intellectual property (IP)? Are our trade secrets safe? Are we protected from our goods being counterfeited or pirated, or alternatively, counterfeit components or pirated materials entering our products?
Indeed, the protection of IP is a daunting issue, particularly when working with business partners located across the globe. Over the past few decades, similar questions have been posed around the issues of quality control, health and safety, the environment and labor. In response, multinational companies, governments and organizations joined together to create guidelines and equally important, management systems, to help companies in emerging economies effectively meet global standards.
The Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade, (CREATe.org) is taking a similar approach in regard to the protection of IP and prevention of corruption.
We work with global brands and their supply chain partners to share best practices for effectively managing IP protection and anti-corruption. We do this by offering a three-step program – CREATe Leading Practices – which helps break down the categories of management practices, from policies and recordkeeping to digital security, monitoring and employee training, among others. We have two separate programs, one for IP Protection and the other for Anti-Corruption. Each includes the following steps:
- An Online Assessment: a self-assessment providing insight into the suppliers’ and business partners’ management systems and business processes for protecting IP or preventing corruption.
- An Independent Evaluation: an interview with the supplier/business partner by a CREATe expert who rates the supplier’s self-assessment across multiple categories of business processes.
- Improvement Plan: improvement steps, tools and resources.
Over the past several months, we’ve been piloting the program with companies in aviation, IT, Telco, consumer goods and other industries; and have been working with companies based in the US, China, Brazil, India and Europe. The program is available in English, Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese.
The initial results have been very affirming and also interesting. We have found that most companies want to do the right thing, but don’t know where to start. A few other findings:
- We were pleased to see that supply chain companies are very open to doing the assessments and believe the program to be a ‘differentiating credential’ for working with global brands.
- One Indian supplier had very sophisticated IP management systems in place at the corporate headquarters but recognized through the CREATe assessment that they didn’t have visibility on systems or practices in R&D and other subsidiaries located away from corporate headquarters.
- An American supplier had very mature systems in place for quality and health and safety, however didn’t apply the same approach to IP protection. That company is looking to use the CREATe framework and resources to implement practices and processes to protect their IP and that of their customers.
CREATe.org is currently running the pilot program free of charge through June. If your company is interested in getting involved or learning about how we can help, please visit the website (www.CREATe.org) or email us at info@CREATe.org. On the website, we also offer an IP Resource Kit with whitepapers on Trade Secret Theft and Counterfeits and a ‘Test your IP Exposure’ quiz, a ‘Build a Business Case,’ and resources such as model policies for IP protection and guidelines for Anti-Corruption.