U.S. Unveils Strategy to Fight Piracy of Intellectual Property

Americans 'need to feel confident that they can invest in new innovation and intellectual property, knowing it will be safe from theft.'

The United States unveiled on June 23 a wide-ranging strategic plan on protection of intellectual property ranging from pharmaceuticals to Hollywood films, pledging to confront governments that fail to crack down on piracy.

"Piracy hurts, it hurts our economy," Vice President Joe Biden said in releasing the 61-page plan drafted by several government agencies. "It hurts our health and safety. We need to protect our citizens from unsafe products (such as) counterfeit pharmaceuticals."

Victoria Espinel, coordinator of the intellectual property task force, said China -- which has long been singled out for allowing piracy of software, music and other goods -- would remain under close scrutiny for copyright and patent protection. "We will initiate a comprehensive review of current efforts in support of U.S. businesses that have difficulty enforcing their intellectual property rights in overseas markets, with a particular focus on China," she said.

The plan underscores U.S. efforts to protect U.S. products and service from piracy, citing the range of vulnerable items such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, software, films and music.

"Piracy is theft, clean and simple, it's smash and grab," Biden said. "Theft in every culture should be punished, and intellectual property is no different."

The plan was developed by a several government agencies including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, State, Commerce, Agriculture, Health and Human Services along with the White House and U.S. Trade Representative's office.

The plan represents a stepped-up effort to crack down on fake or illegally copied goods that could include bulletproof vests, medicines, auto parts or creative works.

"Whether we are talking about fake Kevlar vests... or a bolt that fails on an airplane engine, we cannot afford to purchase fake goods. This is not just about the new Robin Hood movie," said Biden.

"Perhaps our greatest export.. is America's creative impulse... and criminals are working every day, every day to steal it."

Espinel said that Americans "need to feel confident that they can invest in new innovation and intellectual property, knowing it will be safe from theft. Ensuring that our ideas and ingenuity are protected helps us create jobs and increase our exports."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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