Administration vigorously guards intellectual property

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Lamar Smith’s (R-Tenn.) April 29 op-ed, “More must be done on intellectual-property protection” addresses a tremendously important issue. Intellectual property is indeed the lifeblood of the American economy and must be promoted and protected to ensure our future growth, prosperity and competitiveness. Our efforts to address the global trade in illicit goods also have significant consequences for the health and safety of American consumers and workers.

Unfortunately, Chairman Conyers and Ranking Member Smith did not provide a full picture regarding the Bush administration’s record on IP enforcement.

I served for nearly three years as the U.S. coordinator for international intellectual property enforcement — a position that was created by Congress and appointed by the president to organize and lead the U.S. government’s effort to combat IP theft. I worked directly with the White House, Cabinet officials and countless individuals at multiple agencies who continue to be actively involved in the effort to protect American intellectual property.

The reality is that the Bush administration has done more to vigorously enforce American intellectual property rights than any previous administration.   Here are some facts to back that up:

•    Federal IP prosecutions rose over 30 percent from 2005 to 2007.
•    Seizures of counterfeit goods at our borders have nearly doubled since 2005.
•    Since 2005, the U.S. has posted IP attaches at embassies in several major markets including China, India, Brazil and Russia.
•    Working with industry, the administration brought the first IP case against China in the WTO in 2007.
•    In 2007, the Bush administration launched the far-reaching Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement with major trading partners including Japan, Canada and the EU.
•    This administration made IP a priority within the G8, at the U.S. EU Summit, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, and in nearly every bilateral discussion focused on trade and economic issues.  

Chairman Conyers and Ranking Member Smith are right, however, that more needs to be done.

The criminal and civil enforcement provisions contained in the PRO IP bill are indeed necessary and will improve domestic IP protections. These provisions have administration support, due largely to the fact that much of the language was originally proposed by the Justice Department in May of 2007. The long-term effort to combat counterfeiting and piracy will also require adequate federal funding and a significant and ongoing commitment from the private sector. In addition, Congress needs to make it unambiguously clear that strong IP protections need to be a foundation of our trade policy. Our ability to promote strong IP enforcement on behalf of American rights holders is compromised when Congress urges softening IP provisions in trade agreements, or actively urges countries to issue compulsory licenses instead of engaging in fair negotiations with IP owners.

And, finally, the U.S. should have a senior official located at the White House who is specifically responsible for coordinating and prioritizing U.S. IP policy and enforcement. This should be a Senate-confirmed position with the authority and resources to truly leverage the immense capabilities our government has to fight global counterfeiting and piracy.

There is an effective way to accomplish all of these goals. It will not require a major new government organization, however, and through the efforts of the Bush administration most of the pieces are already in place.

Washington

 

In search of recourse

From Barbara Durkin

The Environmental Policy Act signed into law in 2005 called upon the secretary of the interior to promulgate regulations by May 5, 2006 to site offshore renewable energy projects.

And still there is no regulatory process under which the Cape Wind precedent-setting proposal for alternative use of the submerged public land, Nantucket Sound, is being reviewed. Therefore, the reviewing agencies are incapable of providing our/their informed consent regarding the Cape Wind application to lease and be provided with an easement and/or right-of-way to construct an industrial scale wind facility in Nantucket Sound.

The Cape Wind project is being reviewed within the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Meaningful public participation in the decision-making on matters that most affect us is the principle upon which NEPA was created. Absent standards and rules that will apply to the Cape Wind permit review, the public and agencies are denied meaningful participation in this NEPA process.

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, recently sent a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to request that he be provided with the status of the department’s development of these “critical” regulations.

Citing concerns that have been raised about the lack of consideration of the effect of Cape Wind on bird and bat species in the draft Environmental Impact Statement, the chairman wrote: “I would also like you to provide me with a legal analysis of how the incidental take of migratory birds that could occur with offshore renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf might be addressed through your authority under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to regulate the taking of protected bird species.”

It’s encouraging to observe Chairman Rahall demand accountability.

Northboro, Mass.