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Supporting Innovation, Creativity, and Enterprise: Charting a Path Ahead

Today, we’re releasing the next Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement.
“Whether through the music or movies that inspire us, the literature that moves us, or the technologies we rely on each day, ingenuity and innovation serve as the foundations upon which we will continue to grow our economies and bridge our cultural identities.”
- President Obama, World Intellectual Property Day 2016

We are, and have always been, a Nation of inventors and creators making bold ideas real and blazing a trail of technological advancement. We are also a Nation that loves to use new inventions and repurpose old ones, and one that loves to read, watch, listen to, dissect, and reimagine our cultural touchstones. It’s this spirit of curiosity, ingenuity, and creativity that keeps us dominant in today’s global age, and has helped us create the world’s most innovative economy. But with this remarkably positive story of economic growth, ingenuity, and creative expression we find a growing scope of illicit intellectual property (IP) based activities that undermine a number of important national interests.

Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, for example, compromises the integrity of domestic and global supply chains; introduces significant public health and safety risks; subverts human rights by reliance on forced and child labor; and generates environmental harms.  Illicit trade and IP-based infringement also pose direct threats to national and global security interests, when for example, sensitive trade secrets are targeted for misappropriation; or counterfeit goods enter critical private or governmental supply chains; or when IP-exploitive activities finance and support criminal syndicates around the world.

That’s why this Administration is committed to remaining vigilant in addressing threats of unlawful infringement of intellectual property -- including corporate and state sponsored trade secret misappropriation -- that could undermine our status as the world’s leader for innovation and creativity, pose a considerable threat to public health and safety, undermine legitimate business, and harm other national interests. And that’s why today, we’re releasing the next Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property enforcement – the most comprehensive, data-driven Strategic Plan to date.

The Plan – which incorporates views from a variety of individual stakeholders across government, industry, educational institutions, trade organizations and public interest groups — offers a blueprint for the work to be carried out over the next three years by the Federal Government in support of a healthy and robust intellectual property enforcement policy environment.

It lays out four primary, overarching goals to guide the work of Federal agencies and other stakeholders:

  1. Enhance National understanding of the economic and social impacts flowing from misappropriation of trade secrets and the infringement of intellectual property rights;
  2. Promote a safe and secure Internet by minimizing counterfeiting and IP-infringing activity online;
  3. Secure and facilitate lawful trade; and
  4. Enhance domestic strategies and global collaboration in support of effective IP enforcement.

The goals outlined in this Plan are ambitious, as should be the mission of the Federal Government in supporting creativity, innovation, and enterprise through the effective enforcement of IP rights.   Further, they build on the progress made through the previous Joint Strategic Plan that guided the work of Federal agencies for the past three years. This includes:

  • Improved collaboration and efficiency among Federal agencies to leverage an all-of-Government approach to IP enforcement;
  • Increased coordination among our trading partners to effectively and collaboratively combat illicit trade, including through the establishment of Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinators and Intellectual Property Attachés around the world;
  • Strengthening of government-private sector collaboration and industry-led voluntary initiatives in the marketplace; and
  • The Bipartisan passage and enactment of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.

While the Plan sets the framework for work to be carried out by the Federal Government, it also calls on nations, industry, and other stakeholders to provide forward-thinking leadership and a collaborative approach to combatting illicit IP-based activities.

The infringement of IP rights doesn’t only affect one nation or one business; it affects all of us. That’s why we must work together to enhance our enforcement programs and policies for the modern era, and ensure that collective efforts to curb illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, online commercial piracy, trade secret theft, and other acts of IP infringement are maintained as a top priority.

By moving forward using this collaborative approach, and increasing the attention on the specific dimensions of the evolving IP enforcement challenges before us, we can better advance and implement strategically-aligned solutions to tackle the challenges that our creative, innovative, and law enforcement communities face for years to come.

Danny Marti is the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.