"Intellectual property rights crimes are increasing in volume and complexity, costing legitimate companies and their hard-working employees billions in irreplaceable revenue," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "These crimes threaten the health and safety of American consumers, and put illicit funds in the hands of criminals here as well as unknown recipients overseas. This center will fuse federal resources and promote partnerships with industry in new and powerful ways to protect American business and consumers from falling victim to dangerous and illicit goods."
The center will host the restructured partnership of its components, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with the Department of Commerce, Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to combat counterfeiting and trademark piracy.
"Intellectual property is one of America's most precious assets," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez. "The Bush Administration has recognized the critical task of protecting intellectual property both domestically and internationally. This new IPR Center is just another example of this Administration stepping-up the fight against counterfeiting and piracy."
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez joined business leaders, members of Congress and law enforcement officials to dedicate the new facility in Crystal City, Va., and to explain how this state-of-the-art center will function. The ICE-led IPR Center co-locates, for the first time, the regulators and law enforcement agencies that work to protect public safety and national security by stopping the importation of counterfeit, substandard and tainted products and the theft of intellectual property.
"Private sector rights holders - across industries, across regions, and even among competitors - will unanimously agree that the fight against IP crime cannot be won in isolation," said Keith Williams, president and CEO for Underwriters Laboratories, one of the world's leading product safety testing and certification organizations, who took part in the ceremony. "The Center is perfectly positioned to build global partnerships capable of achieving exponential success in our collective battle against counterfeiting while fostering innovation, encouraging investment in research and development, and ultimately protecting the health and safety of consumers."
Since 2000, the IPR Center has been the federal government's central point of contact in the fight against IPR violators. Under the new structure, and in the state-of-the-art facility, partners will employ a task force model to more effectively use authorities and resources to attack this international problem.
The agencies will jointly manage investigative leads, investigations and operations and head off conflicts in enforcement activity. In addition, they will strategically reach out nationally and internationally to train other law enforcement at every level about investigative best practices, to broaden intellectual property protection and to expand transnational enforcement capabilities. For international law enforcement agencies, the IPR Center will serve as a one-stop shop for partnering with the U.S. government to dismantle the criminal enterprises behind the flow of counterfeit items.
For more information, contact: The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, 2451 Crystal Dr., Suite 200, Arlington, Va. 22202, 1 866-IPR-2060. E-mail is IPRCenter@dhs.gov