As part of the Obama Administration’s launch of the first-ever Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, Attorney General Eric Holder today emphasized the Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to protecting U.S. intellectual property as central to America’s economic prosperity and public safety.
“The Department worked closely with Administration officials to develop key aspects of this strategic plan to better protect our nation’s ability to remain at the forefront of technological advancement, business development and job creation,” said Attorney General Holder. “The Department, along with its federal, state and local partners, is confronting this threat with a strong and coordinated response at home and abroad to ensure American entrepreneurs and businesses continue to develop, innovate and create.”
Attorney General Holder joined Vice President Joe Biden, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) Victoria Espinel at the White House earlier today to announce the strategic plan.
“The integrity of health and safety products and trade secrets must be protected. The FBI is committed to pursuing those groups and individuals who steal, manufacture, distribute or otherwise profit from intellectual property theft,” said Gordon M. Snow, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division.
The components of the strategic plan that the Department will assist in implementing include:
Ensuring efficiency and coordination among enforcement efforts across federal, state and local levels, domestically and overseas, through means such as shared information, streamlined investigatory processes and training efforts;
Enhancing international enforcement efforts, including combating foreign-based web sites that violate American intellectual property rights by encouraging further cooperation and coordination with our trading partners in overseas markets, including China;
Securing our supply chain to stop illegal products from coming into the country by providing law enforcement with authorities it needs and by fostering cooperation with the private sector to reduce infringement on the Internet and elsewhere.
The strategic plan is the latest effort in the Department’s ongoing initiative to protect intellectual property. Others include:
Department Task Force on Intellectual Property
Earlier this year, the Attorney General formed a new Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property to focus on strengthening efforts to protect intellectual property rights through close coordination with state and local law enforcement partners as well as international counterparts. As part of its mission, the task force, chaired by the Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler, will also work together with the IPEC and other key partners to implement the Administration-wide strategic plan on intellectual property.
As part of its efforts to enhance coordination with its federal, state and local law enforcement partners, the task force is hosting joint sessions in the coming months. In July, the task force will be holding a joint workshop with Customs and Border Protection. In September, the Department, in partnership with the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), will hold a one-day Intellectual Property Crime Enforcement Outreach Summit in California for state and local law enforcement to learn and understand the impact of intellectual property crime on the local, regional, and national economy. In addition, the Department will emphasize the substantial health and safety risks to Americans from counterfeit goods and products .
The task force includes representatives from the offices of the 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.
Increased Intellectual Property Enforcement Resources
As part of stepped up enforcement efforts, the Department has also devoted more resources to investigate and prosecute intellectual property crimes. In April, the Department announced the appointment of 15 new Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) positions and 20 FBI Special Agents to be dedicated to combating domestic and international intellectual property crimes.
These new AUSAs will be working closely with the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) to aggressively pursue high tech crime, including computer crime and intellectual property offenses. The new positions are located in California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. These new positions will be part of the Department’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) program.
Just last month, the Department solicited applications for grant funding under the Department’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Program, which is administered by the Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and its Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Under this program, OJP/BJA will award up to $4 million in competitive grants to fund state, local and tribal criminal investigations, prosecutions, and prevention and education efforts.
Enhanced Intellectual Property Enforcement Efforts
As part of its enforcement strategy, the Department has been aggressively targeting intellectual property criminals. The Department has successfully prosecuted cases in every area of intellectual property crime including health and safety, trade secret theft and economic espionage, large-scale counterfeiting and online piracy. These prosecutions include one of the largest counterfeiting cases in U.S. history (United States v. Lam http://www.cybercrime.gov/lamGuilty.pdf ). During FY 2010, the FBI opened 150 new investigations, including 21 counterfeit health and safety investigations and 26 investigations involving theft of trade secret cases. Additionally, the FBI also opened 40 new Economic Espionage investigations during the same time period.
Industry and International Engagement
The Department has also taken steps to strengthen its relationships with key stakeholders in the fight against intellectual property crimes around the world by meeting with foreign law enforcement partners as well as leaders in the industry.
In the past several months, the Attorney General has met with foreign law enforcement officials from South America and Spain, industry CEOs and others to discuss the Department’s ongoing efforts and emphasize the need for greater coordination and cooperation in the fight against intellectual property crime.
Read the Strategic Plan here .