Can US get tough on intellectual property crime?

By Michael Cooney, Network World |  Business, copyright, intellectual property

Industries that rely on IP protection—including the aerospace, automotive, computer, pharmaceutical, semiconductor, motion picture, and recording industries—are estimated to have accounted for 26% of the annual gross domestic product growth rate during this period and about 40% of U.S. exports of goods and services in 2003 through 2004. Further, they are among the highest-paying employers in the country, representing an estimated 18 million workers or 13% of the labor force, as of 2008, according to the GAO.

Part of the problems with IP enforcement is that even within the US the sheer amount of agencies involved makes it difficult. For example, overseas personnel from the Departments of Commerce (Commerce), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ) and State (State), and from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) all are involved in intellectual property efforts, the GAO has noted.

The new task force is represented by a variety of agencies as well, such as the US Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Associate Attorney General; the Criminal Division; the Civil Division; the Antitrust Division; the Office of Legal Policy; the Office of Justice Programs; the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee; the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the FBI.

The GAO has noted in the past that many factors influence the amount of time spent on IP activities among personnel who have a range of responsibilities that extend beyond IP. For example, law enforcement agencies such as the FBI have competing priorities such as protecting national security that generally take precedence over IP.

The DoJ At the end of fiscal year 2008 had attachés posted in 10 locations: Rome, Mexico City, Brussels, San Salvador, Paris, London, Manila, Cairo, Bogotá, and Bangkok., DOJ had attachés posted in 10 locations: Rome, Mexico City, Brussels, San Salvador, Paris, London, Manila, Cairo, Bogotá, and Bangkok. DOJ officials stated that all the DOJ attachés are available to do IP work, but the extent to which they actually perform IP casework depends on the IP cases that arise in the country and how they are weighed against other priorities, the GAO stated.

It’s hard to tell how this new task force will fare. And will its penalize IP crimes more than in the past? Attorney General Eric Holder said the Task Force will let the DoJ identify and implement a multi-faceted strategy with our federal, state and international partners to effectively combat this type of crime.

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Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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