Congressional Action Impacts IP Both Here and Abroad
Intellectual property (IP)—those "creations of the mind" that result in new inventions and works of art, for example-- continues to be recognized as a job creator and a pivotal component of our economy. The latest example of this can be found in the Omnibus Appropriations Conference report—the means by which the Congress funds the government and its programs—that was just recently filed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
For starters, the report provides critical funding for personnel and programs authorized by last year's PRO-IP Act, which will greatly enhance IP protection and enforcement efforts. Specifically, the report includes $8 million for new FBI agents to bolster enforcement efforts, $2 million for prosecutorial activities through the Department of Justice, and $20 million for state and local enforcement grants to be administered by the Office of Justice Programs at DOJ.
Internationally, the report recognizes the need to protect IP in any climate change agreement that may come out of the Copenhagen Summit. The foreign operations title of the Omnibus directs the Secretary of State to submit periodic reports detailing the actions taken by our negotiators to protect IP in the Copenhagen talks and beyond.
These provisions in the conference report come at a critical time for IP rights. Here in America, IP can play a leading role in job creation and spurring economic growth, and funding the PRO-IP Act is crucial to protecting consumers from counterfeiters and pirates whose fakes and illicit products steal jobs from people who work in legitimate businesses. Abroad, this news has great significance. Once again, Congress has demonstrated to the world in bipartisan fashion that using multilateral negotiations as an opportunity to undermine IP rights is simply a non-starter. Intellectual property must be protected in any international agreement—and any forum for that matter—and Congress has repeatedly taken a firm stand on this issue.
And from what we hear on the ground in Copenhagen, other players are making their pro-IP voices heard as well. This includes labor and its support of IP protection, especially in international technology transfer agreements.
The continued endorsement of intellectual property highlights the value IP has to our economy, and the role it plays in job creation. Through increased enforcement, we help stop the practice of counterfeiting and piracy that costs this country hundreds of thousands of jobs. Through the protection of IP rights, we maintain a system of incentives that leads to the innovations that drive our economy and change peoples' lives.
So this is welcome news, and we look forward to Congress enacting these provisions, and the Administration implementing them, as another step in promoting and protecting intellectual property rights for inventors and creators of all stripes.