At the IPR Center in Arlington, Va., every day is dedicated to coordinating U.S. government efforts to combat criminals involved in counterfeiting and protect the American supply chain from counterfeit, substandard and tainted products. IPR Center partners are taking the opportunity of World Intellectual Property Day to remind the American public that counterfeit and pirated goods entering our country not only threaten the economy, but also increasingly threaten public health and safety.
"Counterfeiting, piracy and the unlawful importation of goods pose a triple threat to the national security, public safety and economic well-being of the United States," said John P. Torres, acting assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. "At the National IPR Center, we applaud World IP Day because we counter this threat every day with collaboration, information-sharing and law enforcement action across the federal government."
The IPR Center partners are: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); the Department of Commerce; the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS); the Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
"Counterfeiting and piracy costs our nation hundreds of thousands of American jobs and billions of dollars each year," said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. "Our ability to trade in a rules-based system around the world is critical to our economic success as a nation."
Stephen Siwek, author of The True Cost of Copyright Industry Piracy to the U.S. Economy, found that piracy losses, incurred by just the major copyright industries in 2005, were conservatively $25.6 billion, costing 373,375 Americans their jobs. The World Customs Organization and INTERPOL have estimated worldwide losses due to piracy to be around $500-$600 billion per year. As great as the monetary loss is, the loss of technological superiority and trade competitiveness to U.S. trademark and copyright owners is immeasurable.
Counterfeit, substandard or tainted foreign-manufactured products disguised as trusted U.S. brands pose a major threat to the health and safety of the American public, and in recent years the influx of these harmful products has grown and their distribution has become more complex.
Last year, the IPR Center implemented Operation Guardian, a multi-agency effort that works to combat the increasing importation of substandard, tainted and counterfeit products that pose a health and safety risk to consumers. In its first year of operation, the law enforcement partners of the IPR Center have seized substandard commodities including pharmaceuticals, circuit breakers, extension cords, surge protectors, steel components, food products, condoms and toys worth more than $6 million.
ICE, which is the investigative arm of DHS, targets the criminal organizations that ship these products around the world, exploiting consumers' confidence in trusted products for financial gain. They attempt to penetrate the lucrative U.S. supply chain by incorrectly describing merchandise, transshipping through third countries or diverting merchandise from the bonded system.
Counterfeit and pirated goods are a global problem affecting every country and the organizations that traffic in these illicit products are transnational in scope. As a result, the IPR Center is committed to working with our international partners, both in the public and private sectors, to investigate and prosecute these criminals wherever they may be.
Substandard, tainted goods such as food products (both human and pet consumables), pharmaceuticals (both lifestyle and life-saving drugs), aircraft or automobile parts, toys and baby furniture, and building and manufacturing components have been the subject of seizures and public recalls.
IPR Center Partners have teamed up to:
- More effectively use member agencies' authorities and resources to combat the global threats to public safety and national security posed by the importation into the U.S. of counterfeit, substandard and tainted products.
- Jointly manage investigative leads and coordinate investigations and operations nationally and internationally for maximum impact.
- Enhance working relationships with existing and emerging industries to identify the threats to intellectual property and trademarks.
- Provide comprehensive training to domestic and international law enforcement agencies on investigative best practices to broaden IPR protection and expand transnational enforcement capabilities.
The IPR Center serves as a fusion point for intelligence on IPR violations from other government agencies, industry, transportation providers and others. The IPR Center partners invite the public and business to join in the fight against intellectual property crime:
Report information on counterfeiting and trademark violations:
Tip line: (866) IPR-2060