WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee today reported legislation to address intellectual property rights enforcement and protect American innovation. The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act was approved by the Committee in a 14-4 vote.
The legislation was introduced in July by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), and is cosponsored by Judiciary Committee members Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Senators Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) are also cosponsors of the legislation. The bill’s cosponsors have introduced a number of intellectual property enforcement proposals in the 110th Congress, and the bill reported Thursday reflects a measured compromise. The legislation would authorize the Attorney General to enforce civil copyright laws and would enhance civil and criminal intellectual property laws. It would also provide increased resources for Department of Justice programs to combat intellectual property theft, and provide coordination and strategic planning of federal efforts against counterfeiting and piracy.
After the panel’s vote, Leahy said, “We all know that intellectual property makes up some of the most valuable, and most vulnerable, property we have. We need to do more to protect it from theft and abuse if we hope to continue being a world leader in innovation. I am pleased the Committee has reported this legislation, which will provide the tools, resources, and structure needed for law enforcement at all levels to protect our intellectual property and to prosecute those who steal it.”
“With intellectual property contributing so heavily to our national economy, it has become one of our most valuable assets,” Specter said. “This bill gives our government the additional tools it needs to protect American innovation by enhancing the civil and criminal penalties for intellectual property violations and discouraging criminal organizations from entering the counterfeiting and piracy market. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this legislation to the President’s desk.”
“Intellectual Property drives the national economy and California’s economy,” Feinstein said. “American authors, artists, and innovators are the best in the world. I am pleased the Judiciary Committee has reported out this important bill, which will help strengthen efforts to combat the proliferation of counterfeit goods.”
“The Bush Administration has done little to protect one of our country’s most vital strategic and economic interests – our intellectual property. It has cost our nation at least $200 billion and an estimated 750,000 jobs,” said Cardin. “I believe the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008 will provide the teeth our law enforcement agencies need to clamp down on those that engage in this illegal conduct.”
“Piracy, counterfeiting, and other intellectual property crimes cost American businesses $250 billion each year -- more than all other property crimes combined -- but the federal government simply hasn't been effective to stop it,” said Whitehouse. “Working on investigations as Rhode Island’s U.S. Attorney, I saw that there was simply no substitute for investigators and time. This bill will put more FBI agents on the intellectual property beat to go after foreign criminals who steal Americans’ ideas and hard work.”
Hatch said, “I am pleased that S. 3325 was reported out of the Judiciary Committee today. It’s an important bill and I’ve enjoyed working with Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Specter to perfect the language. Yesterday, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and I introduced an IP enforcement bill, which focuses on fighting international counterfeiting and piracy. I believe that both the Finance and Judiciary Committee bills are key to protecting our nation’s intellectual property rights bother here and abroad.”
Bayh said, “Until we take more aggressive action to curtail intellectual property theft, we will continue to be robbed of profits, jobs, and legal protection of our best ideas. America will not be able to lead the global economy if we buy from our trading partners when they have a comparative advantage, and they steal from us when we have a comparative advantage. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee took a huge step forward in preventing the United States from forfeiting its most valuable asset in the global marketplace: American ingenuity.”
“In the fierce competition of the 21st-century global marketplace, intellectual property is one of the few areas where America has a clear advantage over foreign competitors. It is vital that we protect that advantage, level the playing field and ensure continued economic growth for Americans,” Voinovich said. “This vital legislative is a critical step toward safeguarding the economic health of our country by improving the management, coordination and effectiveness of our nation’s intellectual property enforcement efforts.”
The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act has the support of several organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Property Rights Alliance, and the International Trademark Association.
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