The cost of counterfeiting and piracy to jobs and the economy is staggering. According to the Commerce Department, innovative industries directly support more than 27 million jobs across the country. At a time when growth is still fragile, a recent report by the Commission on the Theft of Intellectual Property found that stolen ideas, brands and inventions drain more than $300 billion from the U.S. economy.
The scale and scope of global counterfeiting and piracy defies easy solutions. But when businesses and government work together effectively, they can achieve real results. That’s among the highlights of the Administration’s new Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement released late last week by U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel.
The Plan outlines actions companies and federal agencies have taken over the last three years to protect patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. For example, Customs and Homeland Security have increased seizures of infringing imports at the border by 53 percent. More than a dozen companies are working together voluntarily to combat the sale of fake medicines, movies, music and other infringing products on the Internet.
Congress is also taking action to raise the stakes for counterfeiters and pirates by increasing penalties for trafficking in infringing goods and services. It has expanded legal authority to seize and destroy fakes. It has clarified the protection of trade secrets related to “a product or service used in or intended for use in” interstate or foreign commerce, in line with the Administration’s overall push to combat the theft of trade secrets.
While these actions have produced results, manufacturers in the United States continue to face substantial challenges internationally. The Joint Strategic Plan outlines steps the Administration will take to build on these and other results, including strengthening intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement abroad through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, expanding international law enforcement cooperation and supporting small and medium-sized businesses in foreign markets.
These steps are consistent with the NAM’s Manufacturing Growth Strategy, which recognizes “IP as the basis of America’s innovative economy” and calls for “a coordinated policy that strengthens the protection of IP rights by both domestic laws and international agreements.”
Counterfeiting and piracy will continue to challenge the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States. But by strengthening coordination and forging innovative partnerships, businesses and government are demonstrating what works. The NAM looks forward to advancing strong IP protections and enforcement for all products through these avenues, including the TPP and T-TIP negotiations where the United States should be seeking the strongest possible IP outcomes that will advance our global competitiveness.
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