IPEC’s Good Ideas

On March 30, Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), submitted to Congress the 2011 Annual Report on Intellectual Property Enforcement. As demonstrated by the recently released 2012 International Property Rights Index, the United States has experienced a mild deterioration in intellectual property rights since 2007. This has contributed to an even steeper decline in the United States’ overall IPRI score over the same period. As President Obama’s top intellectual property advisor, Ms. Espinel is tasked with reversing those statistics. The following are the highlights of her report.

• IPEC has persuaded major credit card companies and online vendors to form voluntary associations to reduce the sale of pirated pharmaceuticals, music, motion pictures, and other goods. IPEC believes that these associations will significantly curtail access to pirated goods.

• On the recommendations of IPEC, the National Defense Reauthorization Act of 2012 included provisions to “increase penalties for infringing goods that are sold to, or are for use by, the military, law enforcement, critical infrastructure or national security applications and to provide DHS with the explicit authority to give rightholders more information that will help them in determining whether suspected fake products are genuine or not.”

• IPEC developed a national strategy to combat the importation and sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. These recommendations were submitted to both Congress and the Vice President.

• American law enforcement agencies have increased seizures of counterfeit pharmaceuticals by nearly 200% as well as fake safety and critical technological goods by 44%. This contributed to an overall increase in seizures of 24% compared to Fiscal Year 2010.

• ICE Homeland Security investigations are up 17%, arrests are up by 57%, and convictions are up by 71% over FY 2010.

• New trade secret cases conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation are up by 29% in addition to an 87% increase in health and safety investigations.

• The Obama Administration’s trade apparatus has continued to pressure China into strengthening its intellectual property protections. As a result, China has agreed to form a new bureaucracy to coordinate intellectual property enforcement countrywide.

As the global economic recovery continues at a numbingly slow pace, all nations should be seeking to secure the rights of innovators to their own labors. In total, these recommendations represent a step in the right direction.