February 25, 2010Client Alert

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Calls for Increased Anti-Counterfeiting Measures

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent its 2010 Global Intellectual Property Center agenda, which focuses on increasing efforts to keep counterfeit goods out of the United States and stop online counterfeiting and piracy, to Congress and President Obama last week. The measure is part of a cross-industry, global effort to increase anti-counterfeiting measures and to build on the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008’s (“PRO-IP Act”) enhanced protections for intellectual property.

The PRO-IP Act created the first-ever U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator within the Executive Office of the President. The Senate recently confirmed Victoria Espinel’s appointment to the new post, also known as the “IP Czar.”

The U.S. Chamber’s agenda directs Congress to ensure full funding and support for the IP Czar, whose tasks include developing a comprehensive national strategy to protect and promote intellectual property rights. David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the Global Intellectual Property Center, called on the IP Czar to complete a national IP strategy by this summer.

The U.S. Chamber estimates that America’s innovative and creative industries generate $5 trillion of the U.S. gross domestic product and account for more than half of U.S. exports and 18 million U.S. jobs. In contrast, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection estimates that counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. $250 billion and 750,000 jobs per year.

The U.S. Chamber also encouraged the Obama administration to finish negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (“ACTA”) this year. Although the specific details of ACTA remain secret, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative describes ACTA’s “possible provisions” as including changes to border-enforcement measures and criminal and civil laws to stop counterfeiting and online piracy. Countries negotiating ACTA include the United States, the European Union and Japan.

Some have suggested that the treaty would require Internet Service Providers to step-up monitoring and enforcement efforts and even cease providing Internet access to users that illegally copy songs and music. ACTA’s less controversial provisions are said to improve laws designed to keep counterfeit goods and goods bearing counterfeit trademarks from crossing borders.

The U.S. Chamber’s other agenda items include:

  • Expand programs at U.S. embassies that provide technical assistance to law enforcement and judges on intellectual property enforcement matters in developing countries.
  • Enact the “Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2009,” a proposed law to improve U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s capability to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the United States.
  • Approve trade agreements, such as the Korea FTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, that include strong intellectual property protections.
  • Promote compliance by U.S. trading partners with new legislation that improves the U.S. Trade Representative’s “Special 301” process for identifying countries with inadequate and ineffective intellectual property protections.
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