Thursday, July 1, 2010

IPEC Releases Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement

Last week (on June 22), the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) Victoria Espinel published the Joint Strategic Plan mandated by the PRO-IP Act. (For prior posts about the IPEC's duties and responsibilities, see my June 1, 2010 post.) A full copy of the Plan can be found on the IPEC's site and remarks about the program can be found on the White House's Blog, (IPEC's announcement of the Plan's availability and some general remarks about the program).
This report outlines 33 "enforcement strategy action items", divided into six categories: 1) leading by example; 2) increasing transparency; 3) ensuring efficiency and coordination; 4) enforcing our rights internationally; 5) securing our supply chain; and 6) building a data-driven government. Listed below are just some of the highlights – not a full list or explanation of each of the 33 action items.
  • A "government-wide working group" will be established to determine how best to ensure that the U.S. government does not obtain counterfeit parts in connection with its government contracts. This group would be required to submit a formal report within 180 days after its first meeting that details its findings and issues remaining for determination. (Page 7)
  • The U.S. government "will review its practices and policies" to ensure that it is not purchasing pirated software so that it can "set an example to our trading partners." In this regard, the IPEC will propose legislative amendments necessary to implement a 1998 Executive Order. (Page 7)
  • Enhance communications with rightsholders and victims of IP infringement/crimes/piracy, to inform them about how to report IP crime, which types of cases are generally accepted by the U.S. government for prosecution, and the types of information victims could provide to support an enforcement action. (Page 8-9)
  • The U.S. Trade Representative is currently responsible – through its Special 301 process – for providing a Notorious Markets list (defined in the Plan as "a combination of examples of Internet and physical markets that have been the subject of enforcement action or that may merit further investigation for possible intellectual property infringements.") (Page 9)
  • The U.S. government will create a database (or combination of databases that function as a unitary whole) that contains information about IP cases, case-specific information about pending investigations. The database "need not" include sensitive IP information such as national security information, trade secrets or grand jury investigation that cannot be disclosed under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (Rule 6(e)). (Page 11)
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection will provide samples of allegedly infringing products to rightsholders for testing, provided that a bond is posted for each sample "to cover the potential loss or damage to the sample if the products are ultimately found to be non-infringing." In this Plan, the IPEC described a streamlined bond option that allows the posting of a single bond to cover multiple samples released by CBP. (Page 17).
  • The U.S. government broadly encourages cooperation in the private sector to police infringing activity and to enforce existing IP rights: "the Administration encourages actions by the private sector to effectively address repeated acts of infringement, while preserving the norms of legitimate competition, free speech, fair process and the privacy of users." (Page 17)
  • Google, Yahoo and Bing were lauded specifically for their development of "voluntary protocols to prevent the sale of sponsored results for unlawful businesses selling counterfeit medications on-line." Their list of so-called "unlawful businesses" is based, in part, on verification by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites and/or certifications from the original manufacturers of legitimate and FDA-approved pharmaceuticals. (Page 18) – See also Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) and the Partnership for Safe Medicines. (Page 53).
  • The IPEC will initiate and coordinate a process of reviewing existing IP laws and their penalties (whether civil or criminal) to determine whether their reach is far enough, or whether there are modifications required to "enhance enforcement efforts." (Page 19).
The Plan also summarizes various Federal Agencies' enforcement activities in 2010 (to date) (Page 35).
Please comment below about other portions of the Plan if there are other points that should not be overlooked here.

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