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Intellectual Property Rights

ICE Director Morton outlines need for partnership between U.S. law enforcement and Chinese companies to thwart intellectual property violations

ICE Director John Morton spoke to the members meeting of the Quality Brands Protection Committee in Beijing, China, on Thursday
ICE Director John Morton spoke to the members meeting of the Quality Brands Protection Committee in Beijing, China, on Thursday

BEIJING - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton spoke to the members meeting of the Quality Brands Protection Committee in Beijing, China, on Thursday. Morton highlighted ICE's role in combating intellectual property rights violations and the United States' ongoing partnership with industry and the government of the People's Republic of China.

Speaking before a group comprised of more than 180 multinational member companies, representing a total of more than $700 billion in investment and thousands of employment opportunities in China, Morton outlined ICE's role in intellectual property rights (IPR) investigations and the importance of the National IPR Center to dismantle organizations that seek to profit illegally through the production and sale of counterfeit goods into the U.S.

"IPR theft is no longer a crime that is contained by any nation's physical borders. As such, intellectual property enforcement is no longer an American problem. It is no longer a Chinese problem. It is a global problem," Morton told the audience. "For effective enforcement, we must recognize IP theft as a transnational organized crime affecting both our nations."

The IPR Center's mission is to combat predatory and unfair trade practices that threaten U.S. economic stability and national security; restricts the competitiveness of U.S. industry in world markets and which place the public's health and safety at risk.

Companies need to protect their investment in the research, development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution of their products. But, counterfeiters and pirates attempt to hijack that investment for their own gain. Many times these criminals produce shoddy or unsafe knock-offs damaging a company's reputation for quality and customer service.

"IPR enforcement lends itself to, and benefits from, a true partnership between industry and government", Morton said. "We recognize that we cannot fight intellectual property theft by ourselves, and our partnerships with you play a large role in our success."

To help enhance and facilitate productive partnerships with the public and private sectors, the IPR Center launched an outreach effort called Operation Joint Venture in 2008. Operation Joint Venture provides industry with valuable information about our efforts to combat the importation of hazardous and counterfeit products, and it provides you with a point of contact in the field that you can use to provide us with leads and tips.

ICE developed a number of proven enforcement initiatives and continues to focus on areas affecting the public's health and safety. Operation Guardian investigates substandard, tainted and counterfeit products imported into the U.S. Since 2008, Operation Guardian has resulted in more than 480 investigations and more than 1,800 seizures of goods valued at more than $30 million.

The IPR Center is housed in Arlington, Virginia and includes embedded team members from key domestic and foreign investigative agencies, including:

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Government of Mexico
  • Defense Criminal Investigative Service
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • Army Criminal Investigations Command Major Procurement Fraud Unit
  • Inspector General's Office from the General Services Administration
  • International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)

The IPR Center manages and supports the ICE commercial fraud program, which targets criminals engaged in illegal and predatory trade practices that endanger public health, our economy, and restrict the competitiveness of U.S. products in the global market. Successful cases produce significant seizures, civil penalties, and criminal prosecutions.