U.S. Attorney General Combats Intellectual Property Piracy

Washington — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called for greater international law enforcement cooperation to combat intellectual property piracy, which robs industry of billions of dollars annually and endangers the safety of consumers worldwide.

“For too long, these illegal activities have been perceived as ‘business as usual,’” Holder said October 19 at the 2010 International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference in Hong Kong. “But not anymore. Stealing innovative ideas or passing off counterfeits can have devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities.”

The piracy of various types of intellectual property, from books to music and movies to games and computer software and pharmaceuticals, has cost industry billions of dollars and endangered consumers with counterfeit goods and shoddy products. Holder said that this form of intellectual piracy threatens economic opportunities and financial stability, and it suppresses the ingenuity of people and businesses.

“Intellectual property crimes are not victimless. And we must make certain that they are no longer perceived as risk-free,” Holder added.

The major victim of intellectual property piracy, for example, is technology product manufacturers, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the International Data Corporation (IDC). And, according to a 2009 industry report, nearly 79 percent of the software used on computers in China is pirated, an estimated 7 percent decrease from 2005.

The estimated commercial value of pirated software in the United States is approximately $8.3 billion, by far the largest amount of any nation, and in China it is approximately $7.5 billion, according to BSA and IDC statistics.

Recent industry reports now estimate that worldwide more than 40 percent of all computer software installed on personal computers is obtained illegally, Holder told the conference. It costs the industry about $50 billion annually. Worse though, Holder said, is that these crimes have ripple effects across the entire global computer manufacturing industry.

According to INTERPOL, “trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy are serious intellectual property crimes that defraud consumers, threaten the health of patients, cost society billions of dollars in lost government revenues, foreign investments or business profits and violate the rights of trademark, patent and copyright owners.”

Holder told conference delegates that global criminal networks increasingly are funding their illegal activities through intellectual property crimes, and the challenge facing law enforcement agencies is not simply to keep up with the crimes, but to develop strategies that are more sophisticated than those used by the criminals.

“Our collaboration across borders must become more seamless,” Holder said. “If we are going to turn the page on the problem of international intellectual property crime, we must fully assess current efforts and commit to making meaningful, measurable enhancements.”

Holder traveled on to Beijing following the Hong Kong conference to meet with Chinese officials to discuss bilateral efforts to combat intellectual piracy crimes and law enforcement efforts through the Intellectual Property Working Group of the U.S.-China Joint Liaison Group for Law Enforcement Cooperation.

“I hope we can work to identify the most pressing and perilous gaps in our enforcement mechanisms — and begin taking the steps required to close these gaps, strengthen IP protections and fulfill the most critical obligations of public service,” Holder told the conference.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

Remote Publishing: By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.

2 Comments

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