The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) stands at the forefront of America's response to intellectual property theft and its enforcement of international trade laws. Its efforts have a direct impact on the nation's health and safety, economy and warfighters.
The center consists of law enforcement groups including Interpol, Europol and the governments of Canada and Mexico. These task forces enable the center to leverage the resources, skills and authorities of each partner.
The IPR Center is led by an HSI director, along with deputy directors from HSI, the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Intellectual Property Unit works with the field to investigate criminal organizations that commit intellectual property theft and engage in illegal trade practices. The unit also responds to threats caused by such crimes, including health and safety risks from counterfeit products.
Additionally, the unit oversees the Intellectual Property Rights Intelligence Section. The section develops investigative leads; streamlines investigations with partner agencies; identifies schemes affecting field offices and sends information to industry partners.
The Intellectual Property Unit oversees the following operations:
Operation In Our Sites is a groundbreaking operation that targets counterfeit goods and pirated media sold online. It also targets the funds generated from their sales. Initiated in 2010, Operation In Our Sites is the first federal operation that has used the sustained seizure of online domain names as a tool to combat the sale of pirated and counterfeit goods.
Operation Chain Reaction targets counterfeit items entering government and critical-infrastructure supply chains. Counterfeit parts can seriously impair supply chains of all sectors, but they can especially impact Department of Defense missions, weapons and the lives of service members. The operation includes IPR Center partners and other government organizations involved with the military supply chain.
Operation Engine Newity targets counterfeit and substandard automotive products that endanger the health and safety of consumers. These include counterfeit airbags and steering, brake and seat belt components. HSI, the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection work on this operation.
Operation Apothecary targets counterfeit drugs arriving at ports of entry, including international mail and courier buildings. HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service work on this operation.
Operation Plastic Beauty targets the sale of counterfeit personal healthcare and beauty products that pose a significant health and safety risk to consumers. Particular emphasis is placed on the use of the Internet as the primary means of communication and ordering of health and beauty products.
Operation Team Player targets the sale and trafficking of counterfeit sports merchandise and apparel, a multi-million dollar criminal industry. HSI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection target the importation of these counterfeit goods, while also partnering with State and Local law enforcement to target the sale of counterfeit goods at high profile sporting events.
Industry partners are vital to HSI's success in stopping IPR-related crimes and reducing demand for illegal goods. The Global Outreach and Training Unit's mission is to build relationships with possible industry partners.
The unit trains law enforcement partners to combat intellectual property theft and works closely with partner agencies and attaché networks to deliver training and support through organizations like the World Customs Organization and Interpol. Additionally, the center hosts visits by international law enforcement and customs officers through the Department of State's International Visitor Program.
Trade enforcement protects our nation's economy from trade practices, commercial enterprises and imports that pose a threat to the safety of American consumers and the environment.
The HSI Trade Fraud Unit oversees field units that investigate a variety of trade fraud schemes. These include environmental crimes, wildlife trafficking, tobacco smuggling, forced child and prison labor, antidumping and free-trade agreement enforcement.
Based on input from HSI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the IPR Center promotes a number of educational and training programs to strengthen enforcement efforts in the field.
The TFU oversees the following projects and teams:
Project Trade Watch raises awareness about schemes used to evade trade regulations, gain unfair competitive advantages or defraud the U.S. government.
Textile Production Verification Teams verify the manufacturing ability of foreign textile factories. The teams enable HSI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to work with international governments to identify factories that aren't in line with programs designed to develop international economies.