Us govt announces crackdown on online counterfeits

US federal spendingThe US Department of Justice has earmarked $3.2m for a public-private partnership that aims to tackle the burgeoning online trade in counterfeit goods.

The funding will be used to support state and local task forces in the training, prevention, enforcement and prosecution of intellectual property (IP) theft and infringement crimes, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

A key element of the initiative will be the creation of partnerships with third-party marketplaces to ensure they have the right analytical tools and techniques to combat IP infringement on their websites.

Announcing the programme, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: "The digital age has revolutionised how we share information, store data, make purchases and develop products, requiring law enforcement to strengthen our defences against cybercrime."

"High-profile instances of hacking - even against large companies like Sony and Target - have demonstrated the seriousness of the threat all business face and have underscored the potential for sophisticated adversaries to inflict real and lasting harm," she added.

The FBI said it will act as a bridge between brand owners and third-party marketplaces in an effort to disrupt the manufacture, distribution, advertising and sale of counterfeit products. 

Crimes will be investigated by the FBI and other partners of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (NIPRCC) and finally prosecuted by the DoJ.

The announcement of the new programme comes shortly after US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deputy director Daniel Ragsdale and NIPRCC director Bruce Foucart called for a "robust, comprehensive global united front against those who seek to profit at the expense of the safety and security of others."

Speaking at a conference in Buenos Ares, Argentina, towards the end of last month, Foucart said: "What we’ve found is many people aren’t familiar with the actual dangers of counterfeit products."

"My priority in both outreach and training and enforcement has been to emphasize the health and safety hazards associated with counterfeiting."

Interagency collaboration between ICE and US Customs and Border Protection in fiscal 2014 resulted in 683 arrests, 454 indictments and 461 convictions for IP theft-related crimes.

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