|2:18 PM EDT||
Howard L. Berman, D-CA 28th
Mr. BERMAN. Thank you, Chairman Conyers, for those kind words.
I rise today in support of H.R. 4279. American inventors, artists and businesses rely on intellectual property rights to protect the value of their creative works. These works, unfortunately, are being ripped off around the world. The rampant counterfeiting and piracy of U.S. products is having a devastating impact on our economy.
Counterfeit and pirated products may account for up to 8 percent of world trade, and a significant portion of this illicit trade are knock-offs of American products. Latest estimates indicate that U.S. businesses lose up to $250 billion a year due to intellectual property theft. This level of counterfeiting and piracy of U.S. intellectual property rights translates to job losses, lower tax receipts, and a greater trade deficit. It has also led to public health and safety threats ranging from
exploding batteries to toxic pharmaceuticals to sawdust brake pads.
The economic threat and safety problems that counterfeit and pirated products pose for U.S. businesses and consumers must be dealt with. Given the difficult economic times we find ourselves in, it is that much more important that we address these problems quickly and effectively.
I am aware of the recent efforts the administration has taken to stem the tide of counterfeit and pirated products. The Department of Homeland Security has seized record numbers of counterfeit and pirated goods coming through the border. The Department of Justice is prosecuting and convicting more intellectual property thieves. The Patent and Trademark Office has stationed representatives in foreign countries to advocate for better enforcement. However, despite these efforts, intellectual property
theft is on the rise. More must be done. H.R. 4279 is more.
The Act strengthens our civil and criminal laws in ways that attack the organizational structures intellectual property thieves are using and reduce the economic incentives that thieves have to engage in commercial scale counterfeiting and piracy. The Act devotes more resources to investigate and prosecute intellectual property crimes. The Act also provides more resources for the U.S. Government to work with other governments to improve intellectual property enforcement abroad.
And probably most importantly, H.R. 4279 provides a permanent and effective means of coordinating intellectual property enforcement activities. This includes the creation of an intellectual property enforcement representative in the Executive Office of the President and requiring that a national strategic plan to counter intellectual property theft be created, complete with clear goals and benchmarks that will facilitate accountability.
I'd like very much to thank Chairman Conyers, Ranking Member Smith, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Coble and all of their staffs, as well as mine, for the hard work they've put into crafting this bill. The hard work shows in both the scope of the reforms and in the strong support for the bill by U.S. businesses and labor groups, and Chairman Conyers outlined a number of those organizations and the broad sweep that they cover and their strong endorsement.
I'm also pleased to say that the amendments adopted in the bill before us go a long way in alleviating concerns raised over the operational independence of agencies like the USTR and the Department of Justice, without compromising the underlying reforms.
H.R. 4279 will bolster U.S. efforts to combat counterfeiting and piracy, and I urge support of the bill.