Thursday, November 08, 2007

Senators Leahy, Cornyn Introduce Bill To Step Up Enforcement Of Intellectual Property Laws [IP Enforcement]

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Committee member Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen U.S. government efforts to combat copyright infringement and counterfeiting at home and abroad. The Judiciary Committee Wednesday also held a hearing to examine current enforcement efforts. Improving enforcement is a central component of Leahy’s intellectual property agenda this year.

The Intellectual Property Enforcement Act introduced Wednesday by Leahy and Cornyn would strengthen law enforcement capabilities and resources in thwarting copyright theft. The bill would give civil copyright enforcement powers to the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, and it would authorize additional funding to investigate and prosecute intellectual property crimes involving computers and the Internet. The bill also requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assign a minimum of 10 agents to work on intellectual property crimes, and it classifies both the importation and exportation of pirated works as infringement.

“Copyright infringement silently drains America’s economy and undermines the talent, creativity and initiative that are a great source of strength to our nation,” said Leahy. “When we protect intellectual property from copyright infringement, we protect our economy and our ideas. I’m pleased to join with Senator Cornyn as we launch our examination of how we can better protect those ideas and products from illegal piracy, infringement and theft.”

“This bill takes important steps to protect American innovators and consumers,” said Cornyn. “By working together in a bipartisan manner, we’ve made significant strides to strengthen and safeguard intellectual property rights in Texas and throughout America. This latest effort builds on that strong record. Our bill gives the law enforcement community the additional tools needed to meet the growing threat to America’s innovation economy posed by intellectual property pirates and counterfeiters. I hope my colleagues will support it.”

The Judiciary Committee Wednesday also heard from a panel of government witnesses who testified about federal enforcement efforts. Also testifying Wednesday was Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who earlier this year introduced legislation with Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) to restructure the current inter-agency intellectual property enforcement structure.

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