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Intellectual Property Rights

IPR Center partners with National Crime Prevention Council to teach shoppers about dangers of buying counterfeit goods

ARLINGTON, Va. — Anyone who visits a website seized by the government for counterfeiting violations will now be met with a public service announcement (PSA) that educates them about the impact that such crime has on global economics and its links to organized crime. The PSA is the result of a new partnership announced Friday between the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). The announcement comes as international associations, government and law enforcement officials around the world celebrate World Intellectual Property (IP) Day.

The PSA will play on domain names seized under Operation In Our Sites, a sustained law enforcement initiative that began more than two years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the Internet. Since its inception in June 2010, the operation is responsible for the seizure of 2,065 domain names. Once these domain names are seized, they are in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to those sites find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.

The federal forfeiture process affords individuals who have an interest in seized domain names a period of time after a "notice of seizure" to file a petition with a federal court. If no petitions or claims are filed, the domain names become the property of the U.S. government and a PSA is played following the original display of the seizure banner. The banner educates the public about the criminal consequences of trafficking in counterfeit goods and the video shows the impact that crime has on the U.S. and global economies and its links to organized crime. The PSA that will now be played is called "Premonition" and is the product of NCPC's public education campaign to prevent IP theft. The campaign is funded through the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, and was announced by the Attorney General last year.

"Criminals are becoming more sophisticated and are increasingly using the Internet to fool consumers into buying shoddy counterfeits and fueling their criminal organizations," said Lev Kubiak, director of the IPR Center. "The partnership with NCPC and the playing of their PSA on forfeited websites is an important step to educating the public about the real dangers of buying counterfeit goods."

"Intellectual property theft hurts real people," said Ann M. Harkins, NCPC president and chief executive officer. "It damages the global economy and helps fund international organized crime and domestic gang activity. We are pleased to have the IPR Center use our PSA in its efforts to help the public understand the consequences of buying counterfeit and pirated products."

World IP Day was started by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and is celebrated April 26 every year in order to promote discussion of the role of intellectual property in encouraging innovation and creativity. WIPO is the United Nations agency dedicated to the use of intellectual property – patents, copyright, trademarks, designs, etc. – as a means of stimulating innovation and creativity. Their mission is to promote innovation and creativity for the economic, social and cultural development of all countries, through a balanced and effective international intellectual property system.

WIPO's member states designated April 26 – the day on which the WIPO Convention came into force in 1970 – as World IP Day with the aim of increasing general understanding of IP. Since then, Word IP Day has offered a unique opportunity each year to join with others around the globe to discuss and demonstrate how IP works to contribute to the flourishing of music and the arts and to producing safer consumer products and driving technological innovation that helps shape our world. The theme for this year's World IP Day focuses on the next generation of creativity.

NCPC is the nonprofit leader in crime prevention. For more than 30 years, their symbol of safety, McGruff the Crime Dog®, has delivered easy-to-use crime prevention tips that protect what matters most – you, your family, and your community. Law enforcement agencies nationwide rely on their expertise to make an impact on personal safety and crime every day. For more information on how NCPC can be a public safety expert for you or how to "Take A Bite Out of Crime®," visit www.ncpc.org.

The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting, piracy, and commercial trade fraud. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.

For more information, visit: www.iprcenter.gov or call 1-866-IPR-2060.