Monday, 28 June 2010

Obama introduces IP enforcement plan

Signaling how seriously it takes IP issues, on June 22 the Obama administration released the first-ever Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement (JSPIP).

Last week Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel joined Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, and representatives from the Trade and Commerce departments to announce the Plan. A multi-agency effort aimed at stemming intellectual property theft, the JSPIP sets out a scheme for cooperation among the DHS, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Customs and immigration agencies, and other federal entities charged with intellectual property issues and law enforcement.

As Ms. Espinel correctly notes on the White House blog:
"Infringement of intellectual property can hurt our economy and can undermine U.S. jobs. Infringement also reduces our markets overseas and hurts our ability to export our products. Counterfeit products can pose a significant threat to the health and safety of us all."
Citing damage done by software piracy and counterfeit goods, the Plan aims to combat these problems by implementing strategies such as:
  • decreasing purchase and use of illegal products;
  • increased investigation, transparency, reporting, and communication on IP concerns;
  • enhanced coordination and training among domestic federal, state, and municipal agencies, as well as overseas;
  • cooperation with trading partners, including increased focus on enforcing IP in China;
  • securing the supply chain by monitoring foreign-based websites and other portals for infringement; and
  • improved tracking of funds used in IP enforcement.
Microsoft has offered to support the Plan by helping to prevent illegal businesses from advertising online sales of counterfeit medicines.

Curiously, the Plan contains few specific provisions addressing patent law; its authors focus mainly on copyright and trademark issues. A White House spokesperson has nevertheless assured PatLit that the USPTO was closely involved in the Plan's development, and that the JSPIP indeed covers patents. We're awaiting further details. Meanwhile, read the Plan here, or view last week's press conference here.

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