The initiative is expected to increase the department's focus on the international aspect of intellectual property law enforcement.
Thee U.S. Justice Department on Friday introduced an intellectual property task force as part of its initiative to crack down on the growing number of domestic and international IP crimes.
The purpose of the task force is to help prosecutors implement a "multi-faceted strategy" that involves federal, state and international law enforcement agencies, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
"The rise in intellectual property crime in the United States and abroad threatens not only our public safety but also our economic well-being," Holder said. "The Department of Justice must confront this threat with a strong and coordinated response."
Deputy Attorney General David Ogden will chair the task force. Ogden will be responsible for strengthening coordination between law enforcement agencies and monitoring and coordinating overall IP enforcement efforts at the department.
The task force is expected to increase the department's focus on the international aspect of IP law enforcement, particularly the links between IP crime and organized crime. The task force will also serve as a catalyst for policy development to tackle evolving technological and legal issues.
The newly formed organization will work closely with the recently established Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, housed in the Office of the President. The IPEC has been charged with drafting an administration-wide strategic plan on IP enforcement.
"Americans produce more technologies, more brands, more creative works, and more innovation than any other nation on Earth," Victoria Espinel, the U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator, said. "President Obama is committed to ensuring that the value created by American workers and enjoyed by communities around the world is protected."
Schemes for battling IP theft are not new with the Obama administration. The George W. Bush administration escalated the war on IP scofflaws by appointing IP-rights experts to help U.S. businesses in countries where theft is endemic, such as Brazil, China, India and Russia.
Nevertheless, IP theft remains a huge problem, with 90% of the software, DVDs, and CDs sold in some countries being counterfeit, according to U.S. government officials.
According to the Commerce Department, IP theft costs U.S. businesses an estimated $250 billion annually, as well as 750,000 American jobs. Figures from the World Customs Organization and Interpol put the total global trade in illegitimate goods at more than $600 billion a year.
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