The Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator has released the third Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement (JSP), which serves as the roadmap for U.S. government activity for the next three years across the range of ways in which we are called upon to protect Intellectual Property. In the area of prosecuting and deterring the most serious intellectual property offenses, the new JSP highlights and reinforces the Justice Department’s continuing dedication to the protection of intellectual property in the face of growing challenges.
The Department of Justice plays a vital role in the enforcement of the criminal laws protecting intellectual property, which is critical to the U.S. economy, and in many instances necessary to protect the health and safety of American consumers. In order to combat intellectual property crime, the department must stay at the forefront in understanding the technologies used to violate copyrights and trademarks and to steal trade secrets and other crucial information. We must also develop and maintain robust relations with our foreign counterparts to disrupt the networks responsible for the production, distribution and sale of fake products to address this international crime problem.
In formulating the JSP, the department helped identify key areas for continued U.S. government involvement and will look to the plan as the framework for ongoing coordination of U.S. efforts to protect IP in the coming years. In addition to the ongoing work of the FBI and federal prosecutors to identify and bring IP criminals to justice, the department is committed to developing the technological expertise to address the growth of online marketplaces that profit from IP infringement, and to increase the effectiveness of criminal IP enforcement across the globe.
Because much intellectual property crime involves new technologies — whether for theft, reproduction or online distribution — the department prioritizes the development of technical expertise and digital forensics capability. The Cybercrime Lab, housed in the department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) has been at the vanguard of assisting prosecutions and providing training to investigators, prosecutors and judges about the many roles of technology in modern crime. Recent cases supported by the Cybercrime Lab include prosecutions for the sale of counterfeit microelectronics intended for use in Navy vessels, an online marketplace distributing counterfeit cell phone “apps,” and the ongoing effort to prosecute members of the MegaUpload conspiracy, which is alleged to have caused more than $400 million in harm to the copyright owners whose works were distributed on this unauthorized file sharing network.
The department also continues to prioritize fostering international cooperation and coordination of criminal IP enforcement efforts. It has developed relationships with foreign law enforcement through international casework, as well as through training and outreach. The cornerstone of the department’s international enforcement initiative is the Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinator (IPLEC) program. The department has continuously posted an experienced federal prosecutor in Bangkok, Thailand, to coordinate law enforcement activities in Asia since 2006. The department, working closely with the State Department, has recently expanded the program significantly. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the Department deployed a new IPLEC to Bucharest, Romania, for Eastern Europe, and in FY 2016 placed attorneys in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for Latin America, and in Hong Kong to increase the department’s reach in Asia. In FY 2017, the State Department and Justice Department expect to post a new IPLEC in Abuja, Nigeria, to cover sub-Saharan Africa. When these five positions are filled, the IPLECs, working in conjunction with U.S. law enforcement, the Commerce Department IP Attaches, and the CCIPS Cybercrime Lab, will form a truly global network targeting international IP crime in all its forms.
The department appreciates the leadership of IP Enforcement Coordinator Danny Marti and the entire staff of the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, both for the development of the latest Joint Strategic Plan and for the tireless work improving the intellectual property environment through a coordinated U.S. government approach.