Passage of Legislation to Improve IP Enforcement at U.S. Ports and Borders
Recent statistics emphasize the need for increased enforcement. IP seizures in the U.S. increased by over 34% from 2009 to 2010, with 19,959 seizures recorded at a domestic value of $188.1 million. As such, it has been a GIPC priority to enact legislation that will improve the ability of agencies to prevent counterfeit and other infringing goods from entering the United States. In the 111th Congress GIPC endorsed the Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2009 (S. 1631), introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Grassley.
This bill would do the following:
- Establish high-level government leadership that will prioritize IP enforcement—The bill combines the international and commercial offices of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) under a single Assistant Commissioner and formally authorizes the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center under an Assistant Director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- Increase IP resources with better training for those in the field—The bill requires an assessment of the optimal allocation of personnel to ensure that both CBP and ICE are effectively enforcing IP while ensuring that CBP personnel are adequately trained to detect and identify imported goods that violate IP laws.
- Enhance the IP enforcement capabilities of CBP and ICE—The bill calls for the development of a Joint Strategic Plan that addresses IP enforcement while establishing individual National Targeting and Analysis Groups to assist port inspectors. The bill also: calls for a list of previous offenders as well as trustworthy partners; lessens administrative barriers to information sharing between the rights holders and CBP; and launches information campaigns educating travelers on the consequences of transporting goods that violate IP laws.
On October 20, 2009, Rick Cotton, Chairman of the Chamber-led Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP), testified before the Senate Finance Committee that cross-border IP theft has “mushroomed from a cottage industry into a global network that endangers our economy, kills our jobs, threatens our citizens’ health and safety and nourishes organized crime.” Cotton stated that Congress should use the authorization process to upgrade IP enforcement capabilities at CBP and ICE, and raise anti-counterfeiting and piracy responsibilities to senior levels at these agencies. The economic future of the U.S., he added, depends on innovation, ingenuity, and creativity. Further, America’s international competitiveness relies on the technical sophistication of our products, the global recognition of our brands for quality, and the appeal of our creative industries.
Passage of Customs Reauthorization legislation in 2011 remains a top priority for the GIPC this year.