New White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime Highlights IP Theft as a Threat to U.S. Competitiveness, Health, and Safety

by Alex Swartsel 07/25/2011 15:11 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

It’s troubling to think that buying a bootleg DVD or some other counterfeit product – whether intentionally or unintentionally – could support the same criminal groups that engage in public corruption, human trafficking, narcotics, and cybercrime.  But a report out from the Obama Administration today underscores that that is, in fact, a very real concern.

The White House today released a new National Security Council Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, the product of a comprehensive study and interagency dialogue on the threat posed by organized criminal networks operating across borders.

The strategy highlighted intellectual property theft and noted that the dollar value of counterfeit goods seized by customs at U.S. ports and mail facilities doubled between 2003 and 2010, from $94 million to $188 million. 

In an Executive Order declaring the threat of organized crime to be a national emergency, President Obama wrote: “Significant transnational criminal organizations that … engage in the theft of intellectual property not only erode U.S. competitiveness, but also endanger the public health and safety through the distribution of tainted and counterfeit goods.”

The strategy includes commitments from the Administration to:

  • Prioritize “us[e of] the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an interagency and international law enforcement task force established in 2000 and led by ICE, to assist with combating intellectual property theft and maintaining the integrity of public health, public safety, the military, and the U.S. economy,”
  • “[P]lace special emphasis on IPR violations and cybercrimes due to their particular impact on the economy and consumer health and safety,” and
  • “Implement the Administration’s joint strategic plan on intellectual property enforcement to target, investigate, and prosecute intellectual property crimes committed by TOC.”

Good for the Administration for calling attention to the connections between intellectual property theft and organized crime, and for reiterating the government’s pledge to take action. 

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