September 26, 2008

Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Legislation Passes Senate

WASHINGTON (Friday, September 26, 2008) – The Senate today unanimously passed legislation designed to address intellectual property rights enforcement concerns and to protect American innovation and advancement. The legislation was introduced in July by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). The Judiciary Committee reported the measure earlier this month. After constant negotiations in the Senate, and with the House of Representatives and the administration, the bill was amended and passed Friday. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives today.

The legislation would 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. Leahy and Specter introduced the legislation with Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). Judiciary Committee Members Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) joined as cosponsors before the bill was reported by the Committee.

A summary of the provisions of the Senate-passed bill, the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellection Property, follows.

Leahy, who led negotiations about the legislation after the Committee reported the measure, said, “We have worked together, and we have worked hard, to craft a bipartisan, bicameral bill that addresses the concerns of the many stakeholders, the administration, and the House of Representatives. 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. If we make better and stronger efforts to combat counterfeiting and piracy, we will also enjoy more jobs, greater returns on productivity, and more taxes being paid, rather than having infringers and thieves enjoy the financial gains of wrongdoing. I hope with the short time left in this Congress, the House of Representatives can report this important, bipartisan legislation, and that the President will support Congressional efforts to protect American innovation.”

Specter said, “With intellectual property contributing so heavily to our national economy, it has become one of our most valuable assets. 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 getting this legislation to the President’s desk.”

Bayh said, “This is an enormous victory for this country’s innovators and a wake-up call for foreign counterfeiters who believe they can steal our ideas with impunity. We must quickly reconcile differences with the House version, and President Bush then should immediately sign this legislation into law because this strict enforcement regime will save tens of thousands of American jobs and untold millions for our national economy if implemented fully and faithfully.”

Voinovich said, “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 strengthen that advantage, level the playing field and ensure future economic growth for Americans. I am pleased that my colleagues in the Senate understand that this legislation 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.”

Feinstein said, “America’s creative talent is the best in the world, and generates intellectual property that drives the U.S. and California economies. It’s vital that this creative work is protected from theft and abuse. This legislation will do exactly that, and will ensure that law enforcement has the tools it needs to fight intellectual property crimes. I urge the President to sign this important bill into law.”

Cornyn said, “As intellectual property continues its rapid growth as an important part of America’s economy, it is critical that Congress moves to strengthen our protection of discoveries, creative works, and inventions from counterfeiting and piracy. American workers are harmed by each and every theft of intellectual property from U.S. companies. This issue affects not only the bottom lines of American businesses, but the pocketbooks of millions of American families.”

Cardin said, “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. I believe the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellection Property will provide the teeth our law enforcement agencies need to clamp down on those that engage in this illegal conduct.”

Hatch said, “I am pleased S. 3325 cleared the Senate today. Once again, working with Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Specter, we have been able to perfect the language on this important bill, which will be an invaluable tool in combating international counterfeiting and piracy and in safeguarding our nation’s intellectual property rights.”

Whitehouse said, “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. 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.”

Additional Senate cosponsors include Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).

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