Christine Gunderson/Dan Nelson
Washington, D.C. - Officials from seven federal agencies will travel to Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Singapore on April 11-21 to further the Administration's Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP!). Their mission is to deepen cooperative enforcement efforts and to work toward coordinated international solutions to stop trade in fake goods that threaten livelihoods, health and safety worldwide. STOP! calls on federal agencies to partner with America's trading partners to crack down on global piracy and counterfeiting. Outreach to Asia will be followed by visits to other regions in May.
"Intellectual property rights protection is essential to the drive of America's economic future which is innovation," said Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. "The mission of STOP! is to ensure that the talents and creativity of America's brightest minds are protected from the scourge of piracy and counterfeiting. The effort launched today advances our commitment by enlisting our trading partners in an aggressive, unified fight against intellectual property theft."
On each leg of the trip, U.S. officials will meet with their government counterparts and representatives of the private sector to learn about their successful enforcement programs and to share proposals designed to make it easier for businesses to register and protect their brands in overseas markets by standardizing trademark registration and to raise the stakes for global pirates and counterfeiters and by improving law enforcement methods, cooperation and training and boosting investigation and prosecution of money laundering crimes associated with trade in fakes.
The delegation will include Victoria Espinel, Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property; Steve Pinkos, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Daniel Baldwin, Acting Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Trade of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Stephen Jacobs, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Agreements and Compliance; and Eric Klumb, Senior Counsel for the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Department of State and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security will be represented by their respective attachés in U.S. Embassies abroad.
Announced in October 2004 by the U.S. Trade Representative, the Secretary of Commerce, the Attorney General and the Undersecretary of Homeland Security, STOP! is a coordinated, government-wide initiative designed to empower American businesses to secure and enforce their intellectual property rights in overseas markets, stop fakes at U.S. borders, keep global supply chains free of infringing goods, dismantle criminal enterprises that steal America=s intellectual property and reach out to like-minded trading partners and build an international coalition to stop piracy and counterfeiting worldwide. A fact sheet outlining the specific goals and objectives of STOP! is available on the USTR web site at www.ustr.gov .
Since October 2004, the Administration has taken aggressive steps to implement STOP! by working to:
- Stop trade in fakes at America's borders.
- The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has designed and fielded an IPR Risk Model to supplement current IPR enforcement efforts by CBP officers to identify pirate and counterfeit goods at our borders. 10 companies have been selected to aid in testing the post-entry audit techniques of the model. New approaches have yielded results. Since 2000, the number of seizures of infringing goods at our borders has increased by 100 percent, while current seizure rates are exceeding those at this point in time last year.
- Dismantle criminal enterprises that steal intellectual property.
- Justice and Homeland Security (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) are undertaking measures to maximize their ability to pursue perpetrators of intellectual property crimes. Justice, for example, has added 5 new Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Units dealing with IP and hi-tech crimes, with a concurrent increase in federal IP prosecutions.
- Justice and Homeland Security are also working with Congress regularly to update legislation protecting intellectual property rights by providing comments on draft bills.
- Justice is continuing its aggressive efforts to pursue and prosecute intellectual property criminals around the globe. One recent investigation, Operation Fastlink, has resulted in 6 domestic convictions and 1 in Singapore, with many more domestic and international criminal cases pending. *Keep fakes out of global supply chains.
- Commerce is working with industry on the ANo Trade in Fakes@ program to develop voluntary guidelines that companies could use to ensure their supply and distribution chains are free of counterfeits. U.S. companies have formed a Coalition Against Counterfeit and Piracy (CACP) to further this effort under the leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers.
- Empower businesses to secure and enforce their rights at home and abroad.
- CBP has proposed regulations to allow U.S. copyrights for sound recordings and motion pictures, or similar audio-visual works, to be recorded with CBP while pending copyright registration. The early recording will provide CBP with the information it needs to prevent importation into the U.S. of pirate goods.
- Commerce has conducted numerous educational outreach campaigns in California, Florida, Illinois, New York and North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey and Texas informing and training SMEs on how to secure and protect their rights in today's global marketplace, and where to turn to for federal resources and assistance to aid their foreign business ventures with an emphasis on the China market. Commerce includes information on the steps businesses should take to protect IPR in many of its outreach events and is also training its staff to counsel businesses more comprehensively.
- State has been training embassy personnel to be effective first responders to IPR issues, and has developed an internal web page to provide them up-to-date points of contact and guidance on how to effectively serve the concerns of right holders.
- Commerce has developed a number of IPR resources, including a website ( www.stopfakes.gov ) to provide information and guidance to right holders on how to register and protect their IP assets in markets around the world.
- PTO has established a hotline (1-866-999-HALT) to give SMEs a contact point to obtain information on IPR enforcement and report problems in other countries. 141 calls have been fielded to-date by IP attorneys with regional expertise who share strategies on how to evaluate constituent problems.
- Reaching out to trading partners to build an international coalition to block bogus goods.
- USTR and State have been engaging multilateral forums through the introduction of new initiatives to improve the global intellectual property environment that will aid in disrupting the operations of pirates and counterfeiters. Key initiatives are currently underway in the G-8, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
- Justice has signed several revised and modernized bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) and extradition treaties to recognize intellectual property crimes with Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom. Several more pending with countries such as Greece, Denmark and Italy.
Global IPR theft and trade in fakes have grown to unprecedented levels, threatening innovative economies around the world. Interpol estimates that 7 percent of global trade now involves counterfeited goods, or $512 billion in 2004.
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