Washington, D.C. - Congressman Brad Sherman joined today with his colleagues to introduce the bipartisan Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act in the House of Representatives.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy up to $250 billion each year and that intellectual property theft is directly responsible for the loss of over 750,000 American jobs. Additionally, the International Intellectual Property Alliance estimates that the United States suffers $9 billion losses in trade annually due to counterfeiting and piracy.
In order to combat this problem, the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act would establish the Intellectual Property Enforcement Network (IPEN), which would replace the current approach to enforcement with a stronger, more centralized system. The bill requires information sharing and enforcement cooperation between all of the agencies relevant to protecting intellectual property rights, calls for the United States to work towards higher standards of enforcement with foreign governments, and mandates creation of a strategic plan to stop piracy.
“The Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act treats the crisis of intellectual property theft with the seriousness it deserves,” remarked Sherman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, and member of the House Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.
“The staggering losses to the U.S. economy are more than enough reason to take strong action to stop intellectual property theft,” Sherman said. “But this is more than just an economic issue. This is also about public safety and national security. Bogus drugs and fake airplane parts are serious dangers in and of themselves, and more so since we know that terrorist groups have used the sale of counterfeit goods to finance their activities.”
Sherman was joined at the press conference by primary cosponsors Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio and Congressman Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
"Innovation is the heart and soul of this country," said Chabot. "Protecting the ingenuity and creativity of Americans has made this economy what it is today. And while counterfeit and pirated goods do great harm to our economy, they also pose a serious threat to our families and children as consumers."
“Taking others’ ideas and passing them off as your own does not promote fair trade and harms Hoosier businesses,” Donnelly stated. “I am proud to be a co-sponsor of The Intellectual Property Enforcement Act, and I will continue to work hard to ensure that American ingenuity continues to set our entrepreneurs apart from our foreign competition.”
The Senate version of the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act, S. 522, is sponsored by Senators Evan Bayh and George Voinovich.
“The harm caused by the pirating of goods should not be underestimated,” Bayh said. “Not only does it cost U.S. jobs and undercut manufacturers and producers, but it also risks the health and safety of Americans by deceiving consumers into believing they are getting something they’re not. Knockoff pharmaceuticals, auto parts and electrical equipment pose real risks. To date, our government’s response has not equaled the seriousness of the problem. We need a tough legislative remedy that treats intellectual property theft with the urgency it demands.”
“In the competitive global economy of the 21st Century, intellectual property is one area where the United States has a clear advantage over its foreign competitors,” Voinovich stated. “It is vital that the federal government coordinate its resources to protect companies – both large and small – from the blatant theft of their intellectual property to ensure continued economic growth for Americans.”
Also participating at the press conference were representatives from a number of business and labor groups, including the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).