Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Announces New Intellectual Property Enforcement Program Initiative at MassChallenge Roundtable Discussion
Thank you, John [Harthorne], for that kind introduction, for your leadership of this pioneering organization and for your dedication to promoting initiative and entrepreneurship in the new economy. It’s a pleasure to be in Boston today and to be able to visit MassChallenge – an incubator of invention, a hub of ingenuity and a model for the kind of progress we can make through creative collaboration and mutual support. The work that this organization does to connect entrepreneurs with resources, to empower rising business leaders and to promote education and training is not only valuable for our country’s economic well-being – it also embodies some of our nation’s highest objectives and most fundamental values, including our spirit of cooperation, our drive for innovation and our pursuit of opportunity for all. I’m delighted to join so many key leaders, industry partners and indispensable allies as we discuss the work that we can do together to protect trademarks, defend copyrights, secure trade secrets and safeguard the intellectual property that you and many others like you are working so hard to create throughout the country.
In many ways, that task is more important – and more challenging – than it has ever been. While an extraordinary boom in technology in recent years has helped to fuel innovation, bolster American global leadership and create economic opportunity across the country and around the world, it has also provided competitors and criminals with new targets and new opportunities for theft, abuse and exploitation. The digital age has revolutionized how we share information, store data, make purchases and develop products, requiring law enforcement to strengthen our defenses against cybercrime – one of my top priorities as Attorney General. High-profile instances of hacking – even against large companies like Sony and Target – have demonstrated the seriousness of the threat all businesses face and have underscored the potential for sophisticated adversaries to inflict real and lasting harm. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has estimated that the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods accounts for up to $250 billion every year – not including the harm caused by the unauthorized online distribution of copyrighted works, or the tremendous damage to innovators – like you – caused by the theft of trade secret information, whether by individual competitors or with the support of foreign governments.
I want you to know that protecting the nation’s intellectual property (IP) is a vital part of the Justice Department’s mission. In recent years, our coordinated efforts have led to new legislative recommendations and statutory revisions, including an increase in penalties for trafficking in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and engaging in economic espionage. We have contributed to the development and execution of the first-ever government-wide Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, which provides a detailed blueprint for protecting intellectual property, bolstering enforcement and encouraging international cooperation. We have worked through the department’s internal Intellectual Property Task Force to allocate funds and manpower, prioritize investigations, strengthen communication and promote training and resources. We are engaging with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center through the Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the FBI to support and implement ongoing enforcement initiatives. And today, the FBI is announcing an expansive new strategy for combating fraudulent goods that will involve closer collaboration between the FBI and the businesses, entrepreneurs and industry leaders whose intellectual property is at stake. Through this new approach, we intend to provide information and resources to individuals and companies that will help them identify and disrupt attempts on their intellectual property, extend greater protection to American commerce as a whole and safeguard the health and safety of individual Americans.
And our commitment doesn’t end there. As part of our ongoing efforts to address IP crime, I am pleased to announce today that the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs is providing more than $3.2 million to state and local law enforcement agencies in ten jurisdictions across the country through our Intellectual Property Enforcement Program, or IPEP – bringing our total investment to nearly $14.8 million for 41 task forces since it was established in 2009. Over the last six years, funds distributed under this program have helped local authorities to arrest more than 3,500 individuals for violating intellectual property laws and to seize more than $266 million in counterfeit property and currency. These new grants will build on that success by providing resources to enhance training, increase prevention capabilities, step up enforcement activities and successfully prosecute more IP cases.
This is an exciting and important investment and I am looking forward to what these jurisdictions and others can accomplish through programs like IPEP to protect our citizens and secure our intellectual property. But I also know that government and law enforcement can’t do the job on our own. We need the assistance and the expertise of individuals like you – entrepreneurs and business leaders on the cutting edge of American industry – to identify gaps in our legal frameworks; to help us detect copyright infringement and theft of trade secrets; and to fortify our economy and our society against intellectual property crime. It’s only by working together that we’ll be able to anticipate, understand and ultimately overcome the threats and challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead. And it’s only by engaging with one another – through meetings like this one – that we’ll be able to ensure that Americans continue to benefit from an economic climate that is competitive, fair and secure.
I am eager to work with all of you in the service of that goal. I am excited about all that we will achieve together. And I hope – and expect – that today’s conversation will continue long after this meeting has concluded.