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Intellectual Property Rights

TOP STORY: ICE HSI-led teams combat intellectual property theft

fake and real goods side-by-side in Tampa
Tampa Intellectual Property Theft Enforcement Team meets with industry representatives
Tampa Intellectual Property Theft Enforcement Team meets with industry representatives
Partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies are essential to combating intellectual property theft. That's why U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led Intellectual Property Theft Enforcement Teams (IPTETs) conduct training and information-sharing sessions across the country on current intellectual property trends and emerging threats.

This August, in Tampa, Fla., the local IPTET met with industry representatives and local and federal law enforcement agencies to discuss the emerging threat of intellectual property theft and its connection to criminal enterprises.

"This type of hands-on training with industry partners is a great way for us to stay aware of the current trends in IP (intellectual property) theft and to share our agency's expertise with our law enforcement partners," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Tampa. "Intellectual property theft is a crime that hurts legitimate business and is often tied to other types of criminal activity in our area."

During the event, ICE HSI special agents, along with representatives from Department of Justice's Computer Crime Intellectual Property Section, cited case examples that linked intellectual property theft with other criminal activities such as money laundering and the smuggling of goods into the U.S. For example, in June of this year, federal, state and local law enforcement officers raided the Memphis Jockey Lot in Tennessee. This resulted in numerous arrests and seizures of bank accounts, vehicles and counterfeit goods for violating various federal and state laws.

Brand protection investigators also shared information on threat detection and investigative techniques. And numerous industry partners pointed out methods to assist investigators in determining whether a product is authentic or counterfeit.

Tailored for state and local officers, detectives, prosecutors and their federal partners, these training sessions also educate attendees about the Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) - a 19-agency task force whose mission is to combat global intellectual property theft. Richard Halverson, the IPR Center outreach and training unit chief, said that these sessions not only focus on the IPR Center's many capabilities, but also demonstrate the importance of federal, state and local law enforcement working together to attack this ever increasing criminal activity.

Co-located at each of the 26 ICE HSI offices, IPTETs build on the investigative best practices identified by the Virginia-based IPR Center, its partner agencies and private industry. As part of its initiative to reach out to state and local partners, the IPR Center provides training to IPTETs and serves as a resource to support IPTETs' investigative efforts.

Since the teams' formation in April 2010, training has been conducted at 26 IPTET locations. In addition, the IPR Center has participated in 21 other training events focused on intellectual property rights.

To learn more about the IPR Center or to report IP theft, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.