Christine Gunderson/Dan Nelson
For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON, D.C . - Officials representing seven federal agencies will travel to Europe June 6-10 in the next leg of the Administration's Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP!) to deepen cooperative enforcement efforts against the trade in fakes. Having returned from meetings with their Asian counterparts in mid-April, the U.S. delegation will meet with German, UK , French and European Commission officials to discuss cooperation to crack down on global piracy and counterfeiting. Outreach to other regions will occur later this month.
"The STOP! Initiative is one of the critical elements that make up President Bush's aggressive trade enforcement agenda," said Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. "President Bush understands that innovation is America's key competitive advantage in the global marketplace. The Commerce Department has been working closely with businesses, large and small, to crack down on intellectual theft from the first days of this Administration. We look forward to working with our European partners in an aggressive, unified fight against intellectual property theft."
On each leg of the trip, U.S. officials will meet with government officials and representatives of the private sector to learn about their successful enforcement programs and to share proposals to stop the trade in fakes following a model that generated fruitful discussions and interest during travel to Asia. U.S. proposals are 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 also explore avenues by which to further cooperation in multilateral forums or through coordinated actions.
The delegation will include Victoria Espinel, Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property; Shaun Donnelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs; Stephen Jacobs, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Agreements and Compliance; Anne Maricich, Director for Trade Management of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Martha Stansell-Gamm, Chief for the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; and Elaine Wu, Attorney-Advisor for the Office of International Relations of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security will be represented by its 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.
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 (CBP) has designed and fielded a new IPR Risk Model to supplement current IPR enforcement efforts by CBP officers to identify counterfeit and pirated goods at our borders. Ten companies have been selected to aid in testing the post-entry audit techniques of the model. The new Risk Model will build CBP's strong existing border enforcement efforts. Between 2000 and 2004, the number of seizures of infringing goods at our borders has increased by 124 percent.
- 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, which was the largest multi-national law enforcement effort ever directed at online piracy and involved 120 searches in twelve countries, has resulted in 6 domestic convictions and 1 in Singapore to date, with numerous additional 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, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas, and Oklahoma informing and training small and medium size enterprises 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. 305 calls have been fielded to-date by IP attorneys with regional expertise who share strategies on how to evaluate constituent problems.
- Educate the public about intellectual property rights.
Justice has organized day-long seminars in Washington, DC and Los Angeles, California to educate America's youth about intellectual property rights. At each event an audience of high school students hears directly from both the creators of intellectual property and the law enforcement officials who protect copyrighted works. Taped coverage of the events will be edited to produce an educational video to further disseminate the anti-piracy message.
- 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.