2:14 PM EDT
Lamar S. Smith, R-TX 21st

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I want to recognize Chairman Conyers, Subcommittee Chairman Berman and Ranking Member Howard Coble of the subcommittee, each of whom I have enjoyed working with in developing and advancing this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, at a time when many Americans are facing a slowing economy and increasing costs of food and fuel, it is imperative that Congress put aside any differences we may have and work together to promote the interests of U.S. entrepreneurs and industry.

Over the past 25 years, perhaps no group of industries has contributed more to the tremendous and sustained growth in our economy than those who rely on strong patent, trademark and copyright protections.

American intellectual property industries, including entertainment, high-tech and pharmaceutical industries, account for over half of all U.S. exports, represent 40 percent of the country's economic growth and employ 18 million American workers.

American technology, entertainment and productivity-based enterprises serve as the cornerstone of our economic and export strength.

Because of the important role IP industries play in our economy, we cannot take these innovations, or their creativity and investment required to bring them to life, for granted.

Unfortunately, the tremendous success of these innovators, creators and rights-holders has made them prime targets for thieves who seek out items protected by patent, copyright, trademark or trade secret designation. These thieves not only steal the creations of others, but also reap the monetary benefits by reproducing and distributing the products themselves.

And the losses attributed to counterfeiting and piracy affect more than the inventor. According to the U.S. Government, American businesses lose approximately $250 billion each year to pirated and counterfeited goods.

The theft of intellectual property has also cost nearly 750,000 Americans their jobs. Given the current state of the economy, preventing these crimes and enforcing IP laws must be a top priority for the Federal Government.

H.R. 4279, the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008, which is also known as PRO-IP, is a measure designed to respond directly to these challenges.

Specifically, the bill strengthens our laws against counterfeiting and piracy; provides new resources to key agencies involved in the enforcement of IP rights; and mandates a new and unprecedented level of coordination and leadership on IP enforcement issues from the White House.

Mr. Speaker, the incentive to innovate and the ability to profit from the creation of new intellectual property cannot be sustained without enforcing the rights that protect the ownership of such valuable, intangible property.

And while our government agencies are doing more today to protect intellectual property than ever before, the reality is that we must do much more. We must make it increasingly difficult, and costly, for counterfeiters and traffickers, some of whom are connected to organized crime, to steal and profit from American innovations.

Because intellectual property is such an important asset for both the inventor and the economy as a whole, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that IP enforcement is made a permanent priority of every administration.

By supporting the PRO-IP bill, the House will send a clear message that there is a bipartisan commitment to ensure the next President and succeeding administrations have the resources, organizations and strategies required to protect our vital national and economic interests.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, H.R. 4279.

I reserve the balance of my time.