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Justice Department Focuses on Efforts to Protect Intellectual Property Rights


WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today highlighted the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to protect intellectual property rights, and announced a comprehensive legislative proposal entitled the “Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007,” before members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy.

In addition to the proposed legislation, the Department’s ongoing commitment to combating intellectual property includes measures for implementing valuable resources, and aggressively prosecuting counterfeiters, each elements of the government-wide Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP) Initiative.

Implementing Resources to Protect Intellectual Property Rights
In June 2006, the Department’s Task Force on Intellectual Property issued a Progress Report outlining its progress in implementing 31 recommendations to improve IP protection. The task force’s recommendations, and additional Department efforts include the following:

An improved focus on international outreach and capacity-building efforts. In 2006 alone, prosecutors in the Criminal Division trained over 3,000 prosecutors, investigators, and judges from 107 countries; established an IP Law Enforcement Coordinator for Asia in Bangkok, Thailand; and secured funding to establish a second IPLEC position for Eastern Europe in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Expansion of the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) network of federal prosecutors dedicated to the prosecution of high-tech and IP crime. The total number of CHIP prosecutors has increased to 230 (with at least one in each U.S. Attorney’s Office), and the number of specialized CHIP Units has nearly doubled in the past two years to 25 cities nationwide.

Focused outreach to the private sector. The Department has hosted a series of training conferences for IP rights holders that educate them on, among other things, the investigation and prosecution of federal IP cases, the parameters for permissible cooperation and assistance in federal investigations by private rights holders, and procedures and tips for how best to report criminal violations of the copyright, trademark, and trade secret laws. Additional conferences are planned for 2007.
Effectively Prosecuting IP Thieves and Counterfeiters
The Department_s Criminal Division, along with U.S. Attorneys Offices across the country in the past few years, have developed a strong record of prosecuting violators of existing IP law, which includes:

Substantial increases in federal investigations and prosecutions of IP violations, including:
In 2006, the Department convicted 57% more defendants of criminal copyright and trademark offenses than in 2005;
In 2005, the Department prosecuted nearly twice as many defendants as it had in 2004;
The FBI arrested 40 percent more defendants in IP cases in 2006 than it had the previous year.

Criminal Division prosecutors have obtained pleas or sentences in 22 separate intellectual property cases, in the last four weeks alone.

A number of successful operations in recent years. These include Operation FastLink, the largest and most successful global online piracy enforcement initiative ever conducted, which has resulted in the execution of more than 120 searches and arrests in 12 countries, the seizure of more than 200 computers, the complete dismantlement of 30 Internet distribution sites, and the confiscation of hundreds of thousands of counterfeit software titles valued at more than $50 million. To date, Operation Fastlink has obtained 50 total convictions, a milestone never before achieved in an online piracy prosecution.

Other recent prosecutions by the Criminal Division have included the first ever plea of an individual extradited from a foreign country for online software piracy; the conviction of four men who sold more than $19 million in counterfeit software on eBay; and the sentencing of a Utah man to 24 months_ imprisonment for operating a for-profit piracy website that caused up to $2.5 million in losses to the software industry.
The Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007
Today the Department submitted to Congress the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007 that would enhance the Department_s ability to prosecute crimes and protect the intellectual property rights of citizens and industries. Among its many provisions, the Act includes measures that would:

Increase the maximum penalty for counterfeiting offenses from 10 years to 20 years imprisonment where the defendant knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury, and increase the maximum penalty to life imprisonment where the defendant knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause death;

Provide stronger penalties for repeat-offenders of the copyright laws;

Implement broad forfeiture reforms to ensure the ability to forfeit property derived from or used in the commission of criminal intellectual property offenses;

Strengthen restitution provisions for certain intellectual property crimes (e.g., criminal copyright and DMCA offenses);

Ensure that the exportation and transhipment of copyright-infringing goods is a crime, just as the exportation of counterfeit goods is now criminal.


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