One Big Step Forward for the National IP Strategy

Mar 25, 2010

by Mark Esper

Several weeks ago, the White House’s top official in charge of intellectual property—the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC)—requested public comments regarding the nation’s first-ever National IP Strategy. As such, the U.S. Chamber’s Global IP Center (GIPC) submitted recommendations that would enhance IP enforcement, promote the rights of inventors and creators globally, and protect the innovation and creativity that are vital to job creation and economic growth.

We are encouraged to see Ms. Victoria Espinel, the administration’s eminently qualified IPEC, moving forward on this strategy—a government wide plan aimed at improving America’s IP protection and enforcement efforts in the U.S. and abroad. We believe the GIPC’s comments, which reflect the views and ideas from IP-based industries that employ 18 million Americans, account for over $5 trillion of the nation’s GDP, drive more than half of all our exports, and represent 40 percent of U.S. economic growth, will help the IPEC develop a comprehensive and ambitious plan for America’s future that can be presented to the country this summer.

In our comments, the GIPC emphasized the need to:

  • Fully implement the PRO-IP Act (PL 110-403)
  • Preserve a strong international IP legal framework
  • Fight the tidal wave of online counterfeiting and piracy that is sweeping the country
  • Conclude a comprehensive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
  • Advance key IP issues in specific countries, such as India and China
  • Work with Congress on legislation to strengthen IP protection and enforcement

We further suggested that the plan should contain the following:

  • Support state and local efforts in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy
  • Ensure DOJ places greater emphasis on international enforcement efforts, to include developing a plan to integrate IP efforts among the overseas representatives of DOJ.
  • Optimize the effectiveness of IP attachés, while increasing the resourcing and utilization of ICE attachés
  • Enhance the Special 301 process to persuade violator countries to develop comprehensive plans to meet their international obligations
  • Strategically deploy U.S. government IP training funds

We are seeing more and more alarming evidence that America’s intellectual property—the hard work, creativity, investment and ingenuity of the American people that is found in novel products and forms of entertainment—is under attack by the growing and increasingly sophisticated crimes of IP theft. Numerous studies have shown that IP theft, through counterfeiting and piracy in both the online and physical environments, costs the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue annually, and hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

And the harm doesn’t stop with economic cost. IP theft also poses health and safety risks to the consumers, from counterfeit toothpaste laced with antifreeze to exploding batteries, fake medicines with toxic substances, and other dangerous consumer goods that are increasingly working their way into the marketplace.

The business community, labor unions, Congress, and the Administration have all recognized—in bipartisan and collegial fashion—this growing problem. However, recognizing the problem is only the beginning. Now is a prime time to enhance our enforcement tools and efforts to combat the crimes of IP theft, and the National IP Strategy is a primary vehicle to accomplish this. This strategy should build upon IP as a major driver of economic growth, consumer protection, and job creation by better coordinating and strengthening the IP activities of all relevant departments and agencies in the U.S. government, whether their focus is at home or abroad.

Already, we are encouraged to see the administration engaging with the business community and other stakeholders to assess the threats to IP theft, gauging their impact on business, workers, innovators and creators, and the economy in general, and seeking new ways to combat this growing scourge. We look forward to further engagement and progress as the Office of the IPEC develops and presents a comprehensive and effective national strategy that we all hope to see this summer.

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