Thank you all, for being here today, as we announce this important next step in the Department of Justice’s ongoing dedication to safeguarding intellectual property rights at the local, state and national levels.
American products are the envy of the world. Our innovations benefit consumers who want the latest, most exciting—and safest—new products; and they help to keep our economy strong. But our cutting edge products also make our companies— their research and their products— an ideal target for intellectual property crime.
Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but American industry is not looking to be flattered by thieves engaged in illicit competition. Industry seeks a fair and level marketplace where American innovation can thrive.
Rather than take the time to develop their own ideas, all too often competitors try to steal proprietary designs, systems, processes, and formulas from American manufacturers who invest years of hard work and millions of dollars in the research and development necessary to create smarter cars, better computer technologies and more sophisticated military equipment. Ironically, new technology itself has made it easier than ever to steal our intellectual property. Just one thumb drive can capture years of work and millions of dollars in research, and enable instant transmission to a foreign competitor.
Also, all too often we are seeing counterfeit pharmaceuticals, auto and military parts in our markets. These counterfeit items endanger consumers, put our troops at risk and undermine our national security. They erode profits for American manufacturers, and they can cost hard-working Americans their jobs.
That’s why Attorney General Holder has made protecting intellectual property one of the Department’s top priorities. He recognized that the rise in intellectual property crime in the United States and abroad threatens not only our public safety, but also our economic well-being. Because of this, he created the Department’s Task Force on Intellectual Property so we can confront this threat with a strong and coordinated response. As Deputy Attorney General, I serve as the chair of the Task Force, which includes senior representatives from offices throughout the Department, many of whom are here today. Through the coordination of the efforts of Task Force members, we identify and implement a multi-faceted strategy with our federal, state and international partners to effectively combat this type of crime. Today our enforcement efforts at the Department are more vigorous, more strategic, more collaborative, and more effective than ever before.
The grant awards that we will announce today stem directly from the Department’s renewed commitment to protecting intellectual property rights. In this time of constrained budgets, these awards demonstrate that the Department is willing to commit its resources to ensuring that our state and local partners are equipped with sufficient funds and training to take on the many intellectual property crimes they must confront in their districts to effectively protect our country, our citizens and our industries.
Through the guidance and support of the IP Task Force, the Department’s Office of Justice Program’s launched the Intellectual Property Enforcement Grant Program in 2009 to build the capacity of state and local criminal justice systems to address intellectual property theft through increased prosecution, prevention, training, and technical assistance. Since that time, the Department has awarded over $10 million in grants to 34 law enforcement agencies to tackle the problem.
Past grants have already demonstrated an impressive return on investment through a significant increase in enforcement activities around intellectual property crimes in grant recipient’s districts. For example, in the first year of the grant program, the Los Angeles Police Department reported close to a 200% increase in intellectual property theft arrests over the prior year.
Past grantees have reported seizing over $220 million in counterfeit merchandise, non-counterfeit merchandise, and currency in the few years this grant program has been in existence.
In addition, past grant awardees have arrested over 1,400 individuals for violation of IP laws; served over 345 state and local IP search warrants; and disrupted or dismantled almost 600 piracy/counterfeit organizations. As you can see, this grant money has been very well spent.
It is now my pleasure to introduce to you the person who has made this support possible, and who has been dedicated to protecting intellectual property rights since he served in my current role. Attorney General Holder helped launch the Department’s first intellectual property initiative more than a decade ago, during his tenure as Deputy Attorney General. Over the last 12 years, this effort has evolved into what is now a wide-ranging IP criminal enforcement program. And, today, thanks to the hard work of key leaders, investigators, and law enforcement officials at every level – including many of the people in this room today – our work in this area has never been better.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor to introduce to you our leader in IP enforcement, the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder.