Following up on our earlier post regarding the Obama administration's recently-announced IP enforcement plan, below is an interview that PatLit conducted via email with Victoria Espinel, the White House's new U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.
The Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement outlines the administration's international, inter-agency initiative to combat IP infringement. After reading the Plan, however, we noted that its language mainly addresses copyright and trademark law. Wanting to know the Plan's implications for patent law, we submitted questions to Ms. Espinel, whose office graciously responded via email. Our questions, and Ms. Espinel's answers, follow:
Q: Ms. Espinel notes in her "Letter to the President of the United States and to Congress" that "the U.S. Copyright Office participated in the development of this Joint Strategic Plan." Did the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have any similar input, particularly in regard to patent law? Was the USPTO approached in the process of the Plan's development?
A: WE WORKED VERY CLOSELY WITH THE USPTO ON ALL FACETS OF THE PLAN'S DEVELOPMENT. (THE USPTO IS PART OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE.)
Q: Was patent law a consideration in the development of this plan? Or does the Administration envision patent enforcement issues as being the province of the courts and Congress?
A: WE HEARD A VARIETY OF CONCERNS ABOUT PATENT ENFORCEMENT FROM THE PUBLIC - MOSTLY WITH RESPECT TO ENFORCEMENT IN INTERNATIONAL MARKETS.
Q: Does the plan include any developments for law enforcement (penal or civil) involving patents, as it does for copyright and trademark?
A: THE ASSESSMENT OF LAWS WILL COVER ALL ASPECTS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.
Q: The Plan provides for support for victims of IP infringement. Will victims of patent infringement receive similar services?
A: YES, THE STRATEGY EXTENDS TO INFRINGEMENT OF PATENTS AS WELL.
Q: Will the enhanced International Trade Commission (ITC) exclusion order enforcement extend to patented products?
Q: Will the FBI, DOJ, DHS, Secret Service, and/or other relevant agencies play any role in patent enforcement?
A: THE STRATEGY LAYS OUT THE PRIORITIES FOR OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT. THESE APPLY TO ALL TYPES OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.
Q: Will patent enforcement be included in the the training that the Government provides to state and local agencies and prosecutors regarding IP enforcement?
A: AS APPROPRIATE.
Q: Will patent law be considered by the Economic and Statistics Administration and IPEC, in their interagency meeting assessing existing IP laws and potential IP improvements? Will the USPTO be one of the agencies participating in this meeting?
A: THE ESA INTIATIVE IS ABOUT MEASURING THE ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION OF IP INDUSTRIES, NOT ASSESSMENT OF LAWS. ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION WILL APPLY TO ALL TYPES OF IP. USPTO WILL PARTICPATE.
Q: Does the Plan include any provisions for patent reform? Does your office have any comment on the patent reform bills currently before Congress, or on patent reform in general?
A: NO COMMENT.