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Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer Speaks on the Importance of IP Crime Enforcement

Earlier this month, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division represented the U.S Department of Justice as a keynote speaker at the 5th International Law Enforcement Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Conference in Madrid, hosted by INTERPOL, EUROPOL, and the Cuerpo Nacional de Policia. Breuer joined China, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, Chile, Sweden and other countries to discuss solution-driven proposals to IP crime enforcement at the conference, which brought together more than 400 law enforcement and customs personnel from more than 50 countries. Criminals manufacture and distribute counterfeit and pirated goods across the globe. While advances in technology bring our world closer together, those same advances allow those who would commit intellectual property crimes to operate globally without ever needing to leave their homes. Assistant Attorney General Breuer spoke about the importance of devoting time and effort toward IP crime and raising global awareness about its harmful consequences:
“Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, counterfeit automotive and defense-industry parts, and other counterfeit consumer products can cause serious harm to people and endanger their lives; and . . . companies whose trade secrets are stolen or whose goods are counterfeited may be forced to downsize or go out of business, costing individuals their jobs. Nevertheless, the public perception at times persists that IP crime is victimless. It is therefore one of our important duties here this week to spread the message about the significant, and very real, costs of IP crime.”
The conference emphasized the importance of an organized and collaborative international strategy. International cooperation to disrupt the distribution of counterfeit goods improves the quality and safety of goods being sold and distributed to citizens in all countries. IP crime is an international problem and economic road block for businesses, both large and small. Coordinating with our foreign law enforcement partners enables our partners all over the world to address and work toward eliminating IP crimes happening beyond our borders. For instance, German authorities provided vital assistance that led to the indictment of a Dow AgroSciences LLC research scientist on economic espionage charges for his alleged misappropriation and transportation of company trade secrets to China and Germany. Elsewhere, because of the Israeli government’s help and cooperation, a Massachusetts individual pleaded guilty to economic espionage after providing company trade secrets to an undercover agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer. In addition to cooperating on law enforcement matters, the department works to build partnerships through international training programs. In the last six years, the Justice Department has participated in IP enforcement training and education programs for more than 12,000 prosecutors, investigators, judicial officers, and other officials from more than 30 countries. We also send prosecutors overseas to take the lead on our IP protection efforts in key spots around the globe through the Department’s Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinator, or IPLEC, program. We know IP crime is a serious threat. It jeopardizes the health and safety of consumers. It stifles innovation and creativity. And it has negative effects on the global economy. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce our criminal IP statutes, and bring trade secret thieves, counterfeiters, intellectual property pirates, and others to justice. To learn more about our efforts, visit the website of the IP Task Force
Updated April 7, 2017