Good morning, thank you for inviting me today. And thank you as well to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the great work being done through the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy.
In our 21st century economy, intellectual property is among the most valuable assets for manufacturing, communications and medicine. Whether it is the copyright of a blockbuster film, a trade secret for an innovative product, a patent on a life-saving drug, or a trademark of a valuable brand, intellectual property is a significant source of growth in the American economy and a key driver of global economic activity.
Through the talents of American scientists, entrepreneurs and artists, we have developed the most dynamic and sophisticated economy the world has ever seen…and the world is a better place due to their efforts. The ideas and inventions of our citizens provide our competitive advantage in the thriving global economy.
Our competitive advantage, however, is threatened by those who steal the ideas of others and produce inferior substitutes that damage the reputation and profitability of a sought-after, trademarked original, or steal the trade secrets of a productive company. Every time someone copies or steals the intellectual property of another, our economy suffers through lost jobs and lost revenues.
But as we know, this isn’t just about our global competitiveness. Even more importantly, the safety of our people can be threatened by intellectual property theft. Our safety is threatened by those who manufacture counterfeit airplane or car parts that fail. Our safety is threatened by those who manufacture fraudulent electrical appliances that explode. And in the case of fake pharmaceuticals, the health of Americans is threatened by those who manufacture or sell counterfeit medication, such as cholesterol drugs or antibiotics.
Just last Wednesday, we announced the indictment of eleven individuals and an Atlanta-based company on charges related to a scheme to sell fake drugs over the internet. According to the indictment, the defendants in that case marketed approximately 24 different drugs, including versions of Ambien, Valium, Lipitor, and Vioxx, through spam advertisements. While customers expected to get safe and authentic generic versions of these vital drugs, imported from Canada at lower prices, the drugs were, in reality, adulterated fakes that were crudely made in an unsanitary house in Belize.
The theft of intellectual property is not just a cheap bootleg movie or an imitation Gucci bag sold on the street corner, what some might see as a harmless distraction. Stealing is stealing. It is a crime that threatens not only America’s economic prosperity but the health, safety, and security of our citizens.
What is the key to addressing the threat of intellectual property theft? The key is cooperation. It requires the cooperation of law enforcement authorities. It requires the cooperation of government agencies. It requires the cooperation of the Congress. And combating intellectual property theft requires the cooperation of victims, and potential victims, like you and the companies you work for.
The Bush Administration has led an unprecedented effort to crack down on intellectual property theft. This has only been possible because we have made cooperation among government agencies the cornerstone of our efforts. That is what our ongoing “STOP” initiative is all about. The Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy is a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to crack down on the growing global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. This initiative attacks the problem in a number of ways with nine federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, working together to raise awareness of and enforce intellectual property rights, as well as to prevent intellectual property theft from occurring.
I am proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish as a team over the past two years of the Administration’s STOP Initiative. The Department of Justice has worked closely with our partner agencies across the federal government and, through this cooperation, has brought a coordinated and aggressive strategy to fight the global problem of counterfeiting and piracy.
The success of this strategy is made clear in the 2006 Report to the President and Congress on Coordination of Intellectual Property Enforcement and Protection that was released yesterday during Commerce Secretary Gutierrez’s remarks. This important document sets forth the Administration’s significant and substantial efforts to stem the tide of intellectual property theft and the coordinated strategy and commitment to ensure that intellectual property rights are protected.
The Department of Justice’s efforts are also set forth in the report of our Task Force on Intellectual Property, which I presented during a Chamber of Commerce event in June. As you may remember, in March 2004 we had established a task force of high-level Department of Justice officials who were given the task of reviewing how the Department enforced and protected intellectual property rights.
The Task Force made 31 substantive recommendations to improve the Department of Justice’s efforts to protect and enforce intellectual property rights through criminal, civil, and antitrust enforcement; international cooperation; legislation; and prevention programs.
When I became Attorney General in 2005, I charged the Task Force with implementing all of the recommendations contained in the Report as soon as possible. And I was glad to be able to announce to you in June that the Department of Justice had exceeded its goals. Among our many achievements, the Department of Justice increased the number of defendants indicted for intellectual property offenses by 98% from fiscal year 2004 to 2005. We increased the number of prosecutors we have in the field by creating 12 new Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property, or CHIP, Units in U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country, including offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Orlando, Florida, Detroit, Michigan, Sacramento, California, and Nashville, Tennessee.
In addition, the Department of Justice has deployed an intellectual property law enforcement coordinator in Asia and we are adding a coordinator in Eastern Europe.
While I am proud of our efforts and those of our partners, there is more we can do. We are seeking legislation that would, among other things, increase penalties for intellectual property crimes, clarify that registration of a copyright is not required for a criminal prosecution, make attempts to commit copyright infringement a crime, and increase the tools investigators have at their disposal to track potential intellectual property crimes. We urge the Congress to pass this important legislation to further support our efforts in this important area.
At the Department of Justice, we realize that we did not achieve the important milestones already reached--and will not continue to make progress--without the cooperation of other federal agencies, and most importantly, the cooperation of victims.
It is nearly impossible to bring a criminal intellectual property case without the cooperation of the victim. We often rely on the rights holder to refer the case for prosecution, to provide critical evidence, and, in many cases, to take the steps necessary to protect intellectual property from further theft.
The Chamber’s Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy understands well the key fact that preventing intellectual property theft is critical, and that victims have a responsibility both to take steps to protect their own intellectual property and to enforce their intellectual property rights. I applaud the work of the Coalition and its strategy to protect America’s intellectual property through education, enforcement and international initiative. We will continue to work closely with the Coalition to address the protection of intellectual property rights.
At the Department of Justice, we are striving to protect those who create, innovate, and contribute—those who help to expand our economy—by catching and prosecuting those who would steal intellectual property and threaten the health and safety of our communities. We recognize that we are not in this fight alone and we appreciate the work that you do every day to help us in this endeavor.
Thank you for hosting this important summit and for your continued efforts in protecting intellectual property rights.
May God bless you and your families, and may he continue to bless the United States of America.