April 8, 2014

When Being an IP Champion is Your Job

By Austin Donohue

There’s a scene in the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can in which Leonardo Dicaprio’s character, fed up with being pursued by police, turns to an FBI agent, played by Tom Hanks, and screams out “stop chasing me!” Hanks’ character, unfazed, simply replies “I can’t. It’s my job.”

In the real world, there is no screenwriter waiting in the wings with a magical ending, where all the hero needs is a cool car and no backup to save the day. It’s through collaborations between agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) where we see the impact these efforts have on our daily lives.

Through the efforts of 21 federal agencies, international and local law enforcement, and a diverse network of attorneys and security experts, we are seeing real results and real efforts to protect intellectual property.

One such example is evidenced with Operation Team Player, a joint operation between the National IPR Coordination Center (IPR Center), ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), CBP, the Mexican Revenue Service (SAT) and the major sports leagues, which disrupted a massive sports counterfeiting ring involving the arrests of 70 people, shuttering of over five thousand counterfeiting websites, and seizure of $37 million-worth of fake NFL merchandise in New York and New Jersey.

Other examples include:

  • Successfully stopped a major software counterfeiting scheme in Virginia, where the perpetrator was forced to pay more than $137,000 in restitution to companies like Microsoft, Rosetta Stone, Adobe, Intuit and Symantec.
  • A Baltimore man trafficking counterfeit military-grade circuits and defense intel was apprehended because of the work done by HSI, CBP, and the DOJ.
  • A former research scientist, who was trying to flee the U.S. with stolen trade secrets worth over $4.7 million, to work for a competitor in China, is now paying over $500,000 to his former employer, thanks to an intense FBI investigation.

This collaborative approach is helping to protect innovation, and the jobs provided by a variety of industries, from pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, to defense and security. At every corner of the spectrum, from national security to your daughter’s favorite baseball cap, there is someone there to protect your money, time, and ideas.

IPChampions_USCCcom_NoTagline_500x333You don’t need Superman. You don’t even need Tom Hanks. You have real heroes, waiting in the wings, looking out for your life, and your future. And on April 23rd, we look forward to recognizing these IP Champions at the first line of defense of IP rights. Join us in celebration of the great enforcement work done by these agencies in light of World IP Day for the 2014 IP Champions Conference and Awards.

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