Copyright concerns could impact local companies | News

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Copyright concerns could impact local companies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new ruling by the World Trade Organization could seriously change the way we all shop for the products we love.

"The first thing we ever did was trademarked our name and logo," said Jason Rodriguez.

Rodriguez started the Strata clothing company with his brother in Jacksonville.

Over the past two years, their brand has become a name people recognize.

"Our first line was 200 shirts. And now we have denim, dress shirts, this year we're releasing women's denim," he said.

While Rodriguez said they work tirelessly to protect their brand, a new ruling by the World Trade Organization could change that.

The decision comes from a decade-old fight between the United States and Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua and Barbuda is small country in the Caribbean islands where the main trade is internet gambling sites.

The United States has long banned internet gambling, and Antigua and Barbuda said that ban has ruined their economy.

"The United States are the champions of free trade around the world, so it's very unusual that other countries would sue us," said Florida State College at Jacksonville Economics Professor Dr. Roman Chec.

The World Trade Organization had ordered the U.S. to pay Antigua and Barbuda $21 million dollars in damages to make up for the internet gambling ban.

When the U.S. refused, the World Trade Organization authorized Antigua and Barbuda to sell U.S. intellectual property.

That means anything that's copyrighted or trademarked in the U.S. could be sold for pennies on the dollar from the small Caribbean nation up to $21 million dollars.

"While the damage of $21 million dollars is relatively limited, the consequences the ripple effects could be much larger," he said.

Like selling movies, TV shows and computer programs for next to nothing.

Or copying current clothing brands, like Strata and selling them online.

"It's so easy for people to run 1,000 shirts, or 1,000 jeans and just put someone else's label on it," said Rodriguez.

The United States could still appeal the decision.


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