March 28, 2014

An Ounce of IP Enforcement…

By Brian Noyes

If drug dealers and gangs are leaving the business for counterfeiting, we have a problem. In a recent personal essay on, Captain James Callaway describes the appeal of this growing market for fakes:

“I have personally seen drug traffickers leave the business and enter into trafficking counterfeit goods. I have seen gang members get into the business as well. The reason is very simple. There’s a lot of money to be made, and overall enforcement is lacking.”

The recently released 2013 IPR Seizure Statistics by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only furthers the understanding that more needs to be done to combat counterfeiting and piracy, and fast.

While it is good to have the data, the report highlights an issue many inside the Beltway need to give more attention. Rightfully so, over the past decade the DHS has dedicated the lion’s share of effort and resources toward national security. However, we have to remember, economic strength is also a component of a country’s national security strength.

We applaud the work— and subsequent increasing workload— of the good folks at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE)’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) who are dedicated to protecting IP rights. They fight every day to find and stop the flow of dangerous and illegal counterfeits into our country.  For this, we are extremely grateful and as you may recall, we have recognized their efforts through our IP Champions program.

They need more help.

The business community, especially the GIPC coalition, has been pressing any and all officials who will listen for more resources to combat intellectual property theft. We can repeat the reasons: IP is a clear indicator of the ingenuity of a country’s economy and the U.S. depends heavily on our IP for economic success; and IP accounts for 40 million U.S. jobs, 2/3 of all exports and $5.06 trillion in value.

Unfortunately, current resources are just not enough to combat the scale of the problem. We work continuously with both law enforcement and civil options to stem the flow of counterfeit and pirated goods back into the U.S. While the statistics report shows an increase of 38% year-over-year of MRSP value of seizures, or $ 1.7 billion in total, that only represents a drop in the bucket of the total problem.

Shipments from China may represent 68% of current seizures, but the problem exists in scales at concerning rates in many other countries. Transshipments of counterfeit medicines through Canada, for example, are a growing problem with little resources provided to the good law enforcement agencies that are tasked with addressing it.  In fact, in the GIPC International IP Index, we found the U. S. is beginning to fall behind other countries like the U.K in our overall approach to the issue.

The call is clear. More needs to be done, and the agencies who work in this arena must have more resources dedicated to IP in order to meet this need.

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