Recent studies have concluded that the international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods are a multi-billion dollar industry globally that continues to grow. Trademark counterfeiting, copyright piracy and other forms of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringements are found in virtually every industry sector, and in many instances result in significant risks to the health and safety of consumers worldwide as well as harm to the global economy. Says a press release issued by the Department of Justice
Here’s the release in full
In order to combat this international problem, the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Division have worked to increase the speed and flexibility with which the U.S. government can develop international capacity, coordination, and partnerships, and provide training and technical assistance to law enforcement counterparts overseas. By placing Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinators (IPLECs) in critical regions to address the growing transnational intellectual property crime problem, the United States has been able to work globally to increase the protection of intellectual property rights in a carefully tailored and efficient manner.
The IPLEC program was created in 2006, with the first IPLEC stationed in Bangkok, Thailand. The program now has grown to a network of five prosecutors, posted in Abuja, Nigeria; Bucharest, Romania; São Paulo, Brazil; Bangkok, Thailand and Hong Kong S.A.R. The network is designed to ensure that experienced U.S. prosecutors are located in high-impact regions to enhance the capacity of individual countries to investigate and prosecute IP crimes, and to develop regional networks to more effectively deter and detect IP crimes.
In announcing those efforts, Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Criminal Division said, “Intellectual property rights form the foundation of American innovation and protect the American public from products that pose risks to health and safety. The protection of these rights requires robust international cooperation and coordination. The IPLEC network is dedicated to developing the capacity of our foreign partners to combat intellectual property violations and building relationships critical for that cooperation. Our strategically placed coordinators draw upon their subject matter expertise to help ensure that property holders’ rights are enforced across the globe, and that the American people are protected from harmful products entering the marketplace.”
“Combating intellectual property theft requires unprecedented real time international cooperation,” said Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Richard Glenn. “The IPLEC Network is designed to meet this challenge.”
The Network works to:
- Assess the capacity of law enforcement authorities throughout the region to enforce intellectual property rights;
- Mentor and deliver training to investigators and prosecutors, designed to enhance the capacity of foreign justice sector personnel to enforce IPR;
- Assist in developing or strengthening institutions dedicated to enforcing IPR;
- Monitor regional trends in IPR protection and computer crimes; and
- Provide expert assistance in support of the United States’ IPR policies and initiatives in the region.
The IPLECs already have assisted our international partners in achieving concrete results in critical regions. Just this fall an IPLEC-mentored team of Brazilian law enforcement officials launched a series of significant enforcement actions on a U.S. Trade Representative-designated Notorious Market in São Paulo, seizing approximately 880 tons of counterfeit and contraband goods worth approximately $138 million, which ultimately resulted in the market’s closure.
Within DOJ’s Criminal Division, the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) have partnered to support this global network of IPR experts whose efforts have helped foreign partners successfully prosecute many key cases, including seizing and forfeiting millions of dollars, and coordinating on numerous transnational investigations with their U.S. counterparts—particularly in some of DOJ’s longest running programs in South America and Eastern Europe.