Obama's intellectual property chief steps down

The White House's intellectual property chief, Victoria Espinel, has stepped down from her role in the administration and is rumored to be one of the top candidates to lead BSA | The Software Alliance, according to industry sources. 

Espinel served as the White House's first intellectual property enforcement officer, a position that was established in the 2008 Pro-IP Act. She was appointed by President Obama in September 2009 and confirmed by the Senate later that year. 

Espinel officially stepped down from her role at the White House on Friday, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Howard Shelanski, who serves as the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB, will step in for Espinel in the interim while the administration searches for a new intellectual property chief. He will head up both offices until a new IP chief is named. 

During her time at the White House, Espinel encouraged various private-sector members to develop a set of best practices on ways to combat online piracy and the sale of counterfeit products on the Web. Last month the White House partnered with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other online advertising companies to unveil a set of best practices aimed at keeping ads off of pirate sites.

She also advocated for Congress to make illegal streaming of online content a felony, when appropriate, in a 2011 white paper that outlined legislative recommendations on intellectual property enforcement.

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Espinel's name has been floated as one of the top candidates to succeed Robert Holleyman as CEO of BSA, a trade group that represents top software companies like Microsoft and McAfee. Holleyman stepped down as the president and CEO of BSA in March to launch a new company, Cloud 4 Growth, that focuses on helping governments and organizations use cloud technology.

Prior to joining the White House, Espinel was a professor at the George Mason University School of Law, where she taught intellectual property and trade law. She has also served as a top official on intellectual property issues at the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

This story was updated at 5:51 p.m.