February 16, 2010, 1:50 PM — After years of criticism, the Department of Justice today set up a task force it says will focus exclusively on battling US and international intellectual property crimes.
The Task Force will focus on bolstering efforts to combat intellectual property crimes through close coordination with state and local law enforcement partners as well as international counterparts, the DoJ stated. It will also monitor and coordinate overall intellectual property enforcement efforts at the DoJ, with an increased focus on the international IP enforcement, including the links between IP crime and international organized crime. The Task Force will also develop policies to address what the DoJ called evolving technological and legal landscape of this area of law enforcement.
As part of its mission, the Task Force will work closely with and make recommendations to the recently established Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), which reports to the Executive Office of the President and is supposed to develop an overarching US strategic plan on intellectual property.
Critics have long said the US needs to do something to put a crimp in the over $200 billion counterfeit and pirated goods industry with better enforcement and increased penalties for violations.
The Government Accountability Office noted that a broad range of IP-protected products are subject to being counterfeited or pirated, from luxury goods and brand name apparel to computer software and digital media to food and medicine. Evidence of counterfeiting in industries whose products have a public health or safety component, such as auto and airline parts; electrical, health, and beauty products; batteries; pharmaceuticals; and infant formula, presents a significant concern. The World Health Organization estimates that as much as 10% of medicines sold worldwide are believed to be counterfeit.