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Protecting Intellectual Property

Today the Department of Justice is recognizing  the 10th annual World Intellectual Property Day. Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind –music, literature, film, artistic works, and inventions. Intellectual property is one of America’s greatest assets. Its protection is central to our economic prosperity and security as well the public’s health and safety. Aggressive intellectual property law enforcement is crucial to our continued success and safety, and is a top priority of the Department of Justice.  Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the creation of the Task Force on Intellectual Property. The Task Force strengthens efforts to combat intellectual property crimes through close coordination with state and local law enforcement partners as well as our international counterparts. Today, that Task Force got even stronger. Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary  G. Grindler, who serves as the Chair of the Task Force, announced the appointment of 15 new Assistant U.S. Attorney positions and 20 FBI Special Agents to be dedicated to combating domestic and international IP crimes.  In an op-ed featured in the National Law Journal, Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler explained why combatting intellectual property crime is so vital to our national interest:
Businesses that create and rely upon intellectual property, from large entertainment conglomerates to small biotech firms, make up among the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy.  These industries also represent a significant portion of U.S. exports, with intellectual property now comprising a significant – and growing – share of the value of world trade.  The proliferation of worldwide Internet access and advances in traditional distribution methods, such as transportation and shipping, now allow American businesses of all sizes to market their intellectual property throughout the world.  Digital content, whether embodied in software, books, games, movies, or music, can be transmitted from one corner of the world to another almost instantly.   But these unprecedented opportunities for American businesses and entrepreneurs are put at risk by criminals and criminal organizations that seek unlawfully to profit by stealing from the hard work of American artists, authors and inventors.  For every new technological advancement by American business, there is, unfortunately, a criminal who would seek to misuse it for his own illicit purposes.  Criminals are responding to American innovation with their own creative methods of committing intellectual property crimes -- from wide-spread online piracy, to well-funded corporate espionage, to increased trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other goods.  When we fail to enforce intellectual property rights aggressively, we fail to protect some of our nation’s most important and valuable resources.  The theft of even a single trade secret can completely destroy a burgeoning small business.  When criminals sell counterfeit drugs and medical devices to consumers, our nation’s public health is compromised.  And, when illicit products such as counterfeit airplane parts or pirated electronic components make their way into the marketplace, they place our public safety at risk. 
Our efforts to combat intellectual property crimes are stronger than ever. Through partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement, increased cooperation with our international counterparts, and specially trained investigators and federal prosecutors the Department of Justice remains vigilant in its enforcement of intellectual property law.
Updated April 7, 2017