Creative Control


with Kim Tignor of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


Apr 13, 2018

Intellectual property theft costs Americans hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Kim Tignor of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law discusses IP rights and protections, along with efforts to educate and support minority communities to prevent theft of creative works and ideas.

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Traynham: Intellectual property theft costs the United States upwards of $600 billion per year in losses. Hello, everyone and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Robert Traynham. Joining me is Kim Tignor, director of public policy with the Lawyers´ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Kim, welcome to the program.

Tignor: Thank you for having me.

Traynham: So that´s a real number that I mentioned just 20 seconds ago. That´s a lot of money. And it´s a lot of money, not only for the people that are selling their goods, but it´s a lot of money on the legal system and so forth. And also, quite frankly, look, if you create something, there are laws in this country to protect that. So walk me through specifically some of the programs that you´re working on.

Tignor: Yeah, so earlier this year -- or actually in 2017, the Lawyers´ Committee launched an initiative called Creative Control. And Creative Control is essentially a community of entrepreneurs, creators, intellectual property lawyers, and policy experts that are just all coming together and working to level the field as far as intellectual property rights and policy engagement.

Traynham: So here´s what I think -- tell me if I´m off base or not -- is that when you take a look at this whole intellectual property conversation, communities of color are underrepresented. Young people are underrepresented -- full stop. Is that a fair assumption?

Tignor: That is a fair -- that is an accurate statement.

Traynham: And so is there anything that you´re doing to level the playing field?

Tignor: Yeah, so one of the things that we do, and I think that it´s one of our most popular aspects of the work that we do, our I.P. clinics. And at our I.P. clinics, we bring together I.P. experts, so that is both legal experts and policy experts to come and discuss. We have amazing panels that we then invite -- we´re very in touch, and we invite the arts community, the entrepreneur communities within the city to come and have these discussions. And then at the same time, we have legal sessions going on. So, literally, for free, you can have a 30-minute legal session with an I.P. attorney, just to kind of make sure that you will be thoughtful about how you can protect your -- be it a business that you´re thinking about starting or something that you need to trademark -- just things that you should be thinking about early on.

Traynham: And, you know, Kim, to use -- to go back for a second, could that be a motto, could that be a drawing, could that be just an idea?

Tignor: That´s right.

Traynham: It´s all of those things for those of you who perhaps are watching right now, and you´re probably asking yourself the question, well, what does that look like, what does that mean? If I create a really cool drawing and I think perhaps maybe it should be on my lapel, i.e. a Ralph Lauren Polo, or perhaps maybe it is this really cool, unique innovative idea, you´re saying that there is a clinic now that perhaps can help me protect that idea that I have so that no one else steals it.

Tignor: And that´s exactly right. And I think that what we find is that, you know, especially in these underrepresented communities, there´s just so much innovation, there´s so much creativity and amazing things coming out. But the problem is is that folks don´t start thinking about these protections until someone´s already trying to take it from them.

Traynham: Yeah, and you -- at that time, the toothpaste is out of the tube. It´s very hard to get it back.

Tignor: That´s exactly right.

Traynham: Yeah.

Tignor: That´s exactly right. And, you know, it´s just one of those things. We had an event recently in Washington, D.C. We had over 300 young creatives come to have these conversations, and it was just fantastic. It was a Thursday evening, it was a packed room, and it was silent as these folks just sat there. We had folks taking notes -- it was a really powerful experience. Great, great conversations and a powerful experience to just see all these folks coming together and really thinking through how we can protect the great ideas that are coming out of the community.

Traynham: Very good to know, Kim. Again, I want to address the folks that are watching, wherever you may be. Let´s say, hypothetically, you´re drawing a purse or perhaps maybe a dress or perhaps maybe a new bow tie -- whatever the case may be, if it´s your idea and you don´t know exactly where to go, Kim, where can they go to perhaps maybe get more information about this I.P. clinic?

Tignor: Well, they can come and visit our website -- And we have resources already available, and they can come to our next creative control event. We´ll be in Washington, D.C., New York City, Atlanta, and L.A.

Traynham: Very good to know. Kim Tignor, thank you very much for joining us, we really appreciate it.

Tignor: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Traynham: And thank you for watching us as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit I´m Robert Traynham.

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