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World Intellectual Property Day

Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, gives an update on her work.

Today is World Intellectual Property Day, a perfect time to update readers about all the work we are doing to protect intellectual property and do so in a way that fosters creativity and job creation.

The last time I wrote was to tell you I was starting my new job as the U.S.  Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for the White House, and to ask for your input on what the U.S. government should be doing to protect the ideas and creativity of the American public.

As we move forward with putting together an effective and coordinated IP strategy, I realize just how much we have to consider.  We have been pouring over the tremendous response we received from you.  Today, we are posting all of your comments on our website so that everyone can see for themselves what we are reviewing.

During the past month, I have also met with dozens of companies throughout the country to whom intellectual property is very important.  I have heard concerns from the semi-conductor industry, tractor manufacturers, all facets of the music industry —from the recording studios to publishers, composers, and performers — the apparel industry, cement manufacturers, product safety certifiers, pharmaceutical companies, aerospace industry, labor unions, movie industry, cell phone manufacturers, software companies,  car part suppliers, internet auction sites,  biotech companies and many more. The number of industry sectors hurt by rampant counterfeiting and piracy is unacceptable. As a result of these meetings, I came away with a greater appreciation of the myriad of concerns out there.  And I intend to continue to meet with groups that have a stake in all that we are doing here in Washington as we move forward with developing and implementing the White House enforcement strategy.

In recognition of World Intellectual Property Day, the US government is engaging in activities all over the world to highlight the importance of intellectual property and our commitment to protecting it. 

Our law enforcement agencies, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, announced today the formation of a national network of law enforcement personnel.  

  • The Department of Justice announced that the FBI is increasing its manpower that focuses of IP significantly, by creating regional IP squads in major cities around the nation and adding an additional 20 new agents to those squads. 
  • In addition, the DOJ announced that it will be adding 15 new prosecutors throughout the country to add to its current force of 200 prosecutors specially trained to handle IP enforcement. 
  • In collaboration, the Department of Homeland Security announced that its multi-agency IPR Center is creating partnerships with 70 federal, state and local law enforcement in 22 cities to collaborate on IP enforcement actions. 

And ICE announced the efforts of a major sweep – Operation Spring cleaning - that resulted so far in 45 arrests, the seizure of 701,384 counterfeit items valued at $44 million. 

Many other agencies that also work on IP enforcement are joining this united effort.  Secretary Clinton and Secretary Locke and Ambassador Ron Kirk are issuing statements highlighting the importance of intellectual property. There are also a numbers of events taking place today where senior government officials are speaking on intellectual property, including Ambassador Miriam Sapiro of USTR at the National Press Club, Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats at the US Chamber of Commerce. I will be speaking at an event with the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, the head of USTR, Ambassador Ron Kirk, the head of our US Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos and other senior Commerce officials, including Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez.  And embassies throughout the world are reaffirming those same sentiments in statements issued by their ambassadors and in a number of educational programs they are holding. 

The President has made clear that strong enforcement of America’s intellectual property is a critical part of our plan to promote exports and create jobs.  I look forward to continuing our dialogue and utilizing the expertise out there to harness and protect what has always been one of America’s greatest strengths – the diversity of great ideas.

Victoria Espinel is the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator