Senate Judiciary Committee Approves IPR Enforcement Bill
September 18, 2008
Its key provisions would authorize the Attorney General to enforce civil copyright laws and the creation of ‘IP Czar’ charged with developing a joint strategy for combating counterfeiting and IP infringement.
By authorizing the Attorney General to enforce copyright laws, the Act would allow the Department of Justice to bring civil actions on behalf of private parties, many of whom do not have the resources to go after domestic and international counterfeiters. It also doubles the minimum statutory penalties for copyright violations.
At the FBI, the Act would create a special unit to handle complex IP violations arising from organized crime and combat infringement over the internet by expanding the Computer Crime Enforcement Act of 2000.
The ‘IP Czar,’ or Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, created by the bill would chair an interagency advisory committee charged with developing a joint strategy on combating piracy and counterfeiting. The committee members would be appointed by the heads of all relevant agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Justices, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Trade Representative, etc.
The objectives of the joint strategic plan produced by the advisory committee include the following (partial list):
- Reducing counterfeit and pirated goods in the domestic and international supply chain.
- Identifying and addressing structural weaknesses, systemic flaws, or other unjustified impediments to effective enforcement action against the financing, trafficking, production, or sale of counterfeit or pirated goods.
- Ensuring that information is identified and shared among the relevant departments to the extent permitted by law.
- Strengthening the capacity of other countries to protect and enforce intellectual property rights.
- Working with other countries to establish international standards and polices for the effective protection of IP.
- Protect IPR overseas by building a formal process for consulting with companies, industry associations, labor unions and other interested groups in other countries.
This Strategic Plan is to be submitted to Congress no later than 12 months after the enactment of the Act, and not later than December 31 of every third year thereafter. In addition to the Strategic Plan, the advisory committee will be required to submit to Congress an annual report analyzing the progress made toward the objectives set forth in the Strategic Plan.
Internationally, the Act calls for the deployment of 5 additional IP Enforcement Coordinators to countries and regions where they can pursue the interests of the Strategic Plan. These Enforcement Coordinators will act as liaisons with foreign law agencies, perform outreach and training to build enforcement capacity in host countries, and coordinate US enforcement activities in their country/region.
In related news, Senator Baucus (D-Mt.) introduced a bill to improve the international protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (S. 3464), on
It is unclear what action the Baucus bill will see this congress, or if it will be enrolled as part of another bill, but S. 3325 has been placed on the Senate calendar and is likely to receive a vote before the end of this session.