IP Enforcement Is ‘Urgent Priority,’ Chamber Says

Late last year, the White House and the U.S. Justice Department sharpened their focus on intellectual property. Now the business community is gearing up to push for even more resources and authority to fight piracy.

In a 2010 agenda released today, the intellectual property arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for the passage of legislation that would expand the authority of customs officials to investigate piracy. It also asked for completion of an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement, and it applauded December’s announcement of a Justice Department task force on intellectual property.

“We view this as an urgent priority,” said David Hirschmann, president and chief executive of the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center. Click here (PDF) for the center’s agenda.

In 2008, industry groups pushed for the creation of a White House-based “intellectual property enforcement coordinator,” and last year President Barack Obama nominated Victoria Espinel to be the first to hold the post. Espinel, a former Washington consultant and Covington & Burling associate, was confirmed in December.

During her confirmation hearing, Espinel faced questions about balancing anti-piracy efforts with the Obama administration’s commitment to open access on the Internet. She dismissed the conflict as a false choice, as did Chamber officials and their allies today.

“Stealing innovation and creativity is the same as stealing jobs, the same as killing jobs,” said Rick Cotton, executive vice president and general counsel of NBC Universal. The alternative to stepped-up enforcement, Cotton said, is “slow-motion economic suicide.”

Subscribe for updates from GIPC