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Industry welcomes US's 'robust' plan on IP infringement

The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition has applauded the US government's comprehensive new joint strategic plan on intellectual property enforcement.

The report, which covers the fiscal years 2017-2019, and which the IACC contributed towards, highlights the cultural and economic importance of creative and innovative industries and charts the course for work to be carried out by the federal government around intellectual property enforcement.

The IACC welcomed the "thoughtful efforts and diligent work in providing a road map for anti-counterfeiting work". It was particularly pleased with several proposed actions including recommendations to increase efforts targeting the trafficking of counterfeit goods via mail and small express consignments and ensuring rights-holders' access to information vital to their own investigative and enforcement operations. Both items were reflected in the IACC's comments towards to document.

"The IACC believes the publication of the joint strategic plan is a positive step toward developing an integrated approach to fighting counterfeits, and it looks forward to working with the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and other agencies to determine ways to better protect both consumers and legitimate businesses," The IACC said in a statement.

The joint strategic plan documents the threat that theft and unlawful exploitation of intellectual property can have on US national interests, including: undermining the principles of fair trade in the global economy; threatening consumer health and safety; endangering the environment; exploiting labour; and posing threats to international and domestic security by undermining the integrity of supply chains and through the financing of criminal and terror networks. The report seeks to understand these impacts more clearly in order to improve the enforcement and policy-setting environment.

The strategic plan – titled Supporting Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise: Charting a Path Ahead – also outlines three other main areas it will seek to address, concentrating on the nature of the impediments to effective enforcement and how best to overcome the challenges.

Firstly, it aims to minimise counterfeiting and IP infringement activity online with measures to "follow the money" and halt the online flow of finances to criminals, as well as provide the means for consumers to trust online content and e-commerce platforms by encouraging consumer education and supporting practices and policies to curb illicit online activity.

The report also outlines plans to safeguard legitimate cross-border trade by enhancing identification and disruption of fake goods bound for the US market through a variety of measures including enhanced record keeping and investment in anti-counterfeiting technology. It also discusses efforts to curb the global trade of counterfeit goods.

The final section seeks to promote frameworks and policies to enhance effective enforcement of IP rights both in the US and globally.

The strategic plan emphasises the need for a detailed assessment of the IP challenges facing industries with the hope of developing "narrowly-tailored, but strategically-aligned, solutions in the months and years to come", said Daniel Marti, intellectual property enforcement coordinator and chair of the US Interagency Strategic Planning Committees on IP Enforcement.

"The mission of the federal government in supporting creativity, innovation, and enterprise through the effective enforcement of intellectual property rights must be ambitious. The threats posed by patent, trademark, and copyright infringement, and the misappropriation of trade secrets, are real and multidimensional," he said.

"Our work must be carried forward with a sense of urgency in order to minimise these threats and the often-overlooked attendant harms that flow from IP-based illicit activities. The protection of intellectual property rights is about promoting economic prosperity and supporting jobs; opening new markets for US goods and services; and fostering innovation and investments in research and development. It is also about standing up for our values at home and abroad."

He described the plan as a "call for action" for all nations and industries to combat illicit IP activities and said it represented the beginning of a continuous process. "Together, we can enhance our enforcement programmes and policies for the modern era, and ensure that collective efforts to curb illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, online commercial piracy, trade secret theft, and other acts of IP infringement are maintained as a top priority."

The strategic plan was developed through consultation. The full document can be accessed here: www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/IPEC/2016jointstrategicplan.pdf.


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