Washington DC
14 December 2016
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Obama administration releases three-year IP plan


In a final push before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, the Obama administration has released a new three-year intellectual property enforcement plan, with the internet high on the agenda.

The report, released on 12 December, looks toward 2017 to 2019 and outlines how the US plans to work to disrupt counterfeiting and piracy, particularly online.

Daniel Marti, the US IP enforcement coordinator, said: “ The plan—which incorporates views from a variety of individual stakeholders across government, industry, educational institutions, trade organisations and public interest groups—offers a blueprint for the work to be carried out over the next three years by the federal government in support of a healthy and robust IP enforcement policy environment.”

“The protection of intellectual property rights is about promoting economic prosperity and supporting jobs; opening new markets for US goods and services; and fostering innovation and investments in research and development.”

The plan described IP infringement as a “lucrative activity” that allows counterfeiters and pirates to profit from the fruits of famous brands, while avoiding the major risks facing legitimate businesses and entrepreneurs.

Infringers can gain “staggering unearned and unlawful profits, reportedly ranging from 80 percent to close to 100 percent, in connection with digital piracy and the sale of pirated DVDs and CDs”, according to the plan.

To combat this, the Obama administration has outlined several areas that the US plans to strengthen to curb infringement.

These include strengthening payment processor network’s efforts to combat illicit proceeds, helping advertising networks to curb the flow of illicit revenue to infringing websites, and aid foreign banks in dismantling the financing of illicit trade.

The US also plans to turn its sights to the domain name system, where it plans to assess the enforcement challenge of domain name hopping.

To help combat this, the US wants to assess the nature of abusive domain name registration tactics and identify opportunities to minimise criminal activity.

It also outlined its support for practices and policies that improve the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s notice-and-takedown processes.

Marti said: “These threats are not limited to a single industry, nor do they fall under the purview of a single government agency or even a single country. They are cross-cutting in scope and global in scale.”

“This strategic plan represents a ‘call for action’ for all nations—as well as international organisations, industry, educational institutions, and consumer protection and public interest groups—to provide forward-thinking leadership and a collaborative approach to combatting illicit IP-based activities.”

He added: “Together, we can enhance our enforcement programmes and policies for the modern era, and ensure that collective efforts to curb illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, online commercial piracy, trade secret theft, and other acts of IP infringement are maintained as a top priority.”

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