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Intellectual Property Rights

US government announces campaign to combat demand for counterfeit products

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, in collaboration with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), have unveiled a new public education campaign to combat the purchase and sale of counterfeit and pirated products. The campaign, launched at the White House, will educate the public on various forms of intellectual property theft, from counterfeit consumer goods and pharmaceuticals to illegal downloads and other pirated materials. The campaign will highlight the potential health, safety and economic consequences for American citizens.

Intellectual property (IP) crime refers to the violation of criminal laws that protect copyrights, patents, trademarks, other forms of intellectual property and trade secrets, both in the United States and abroad. IP crimes can destroy jobs, suppress innovation in the United States and jeopardize the health and safety of consumers. In some cases, these activities are used to fund dangerous or even violent criminal enterprises and organized crime networks.

"Counterfeit and pirated goods present a triple threat to America," said ICE Director John Morton. "They rob Americans of jobs and their innovative ideas; fuel organized crime; and create a serious public safety risk. Counterfeiting has evolved to such a great extent that intellectual property thieves will sell just about anything that will make them a buck, with no regard for integrity of the federal supply chain or the safety of our war fighters."

"As our country continues to recover from once-in-a-generation economic challenges, the need to safeguard intellectual property rights – and to protect Americans from intellectual property crimes – has never been more urgent," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "Through this new public education campaign, we are encouraging the American people to become vigilant partners in identifying and disrupting intellectual property crimes. With their help, I am confident that we can build upon our recent successes in combating intellectual property theft, bringing criminals to justice and protecting consumers and innovators."

"Intellectual property theft is not a victimless crime – it affects everyone and damages our economy," said Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Laurie O. Robinson. "We are proud to work with the White House and NCPC toward reducing the demand for counterfeit products through educating the public about intellectual property crime."

The campaign includes "Premonition," a television public service announcement (PSA) created in partnership with MTV Networks that illustrates how IP thefts link to gangs and other criminal activities and "It Hurts," an online video that demonstrates how IP theft is stealing. The campaign also includes radio and print ads as well as campaign materials delivered via social media tools – videos, podcasts and web banners. The public service announcements and other IP theft public education campaign materials can be found at www.ncpc.org/getreal.

ICE Director Morton, Attorney General Holder and Assistant Attorney General Robinson were joined at a campaign launch Tuesday by Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator in the Executive Office of the President Victoria Espinel, Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca M. Blank and President and CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council Ann M. Harkins.

The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 19 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.

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