|2:22 PM EDT||
Howard Coble, R-NC 6th
Mr. COBLE. I thank the gentleman from Texas and, Mr. Speaker, at the outset I, too, want to recognize and express thanks to Judiciary Chairman [Page: H3076]
JOHN CONYERS, Ranking Member LAMAR SMITH, and Subcommittee Chairman HOWARD BERMAN for having made every effort to address all concerns raised during the development of this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 reflects a bipartisan recognition and shared commitment to the strengthening of our Nation's intellectual property laws.
A comprehensive measure, it is not confined to making marginal improvements in the available civil and criminal authorities. Instead, it incorporates bold and urgently needed provisions that will permanently elevate the importance of intellectual property, IP, enforcement in future administrations.
This is accomplished by providing focused and accountable strategic leadership in the Executive Office of the President and at key enforcement agencies.
Mr. Speaker, in considering why we should take steps to improve the enforcement of U.S. IP rights, Members should be aware that U.S. losses from global copyright piracy and counterfeiting cost our innovators and entrepreneurs from $200 to $250 billion each and every year.
The impact in America has been widespread. More than 750,000 Americans in communities across our land have lost their jobs due to counterfeiting and piracy. Counterfeit goods lack proper quality control and can be dangerous. Toothpaste, medicines, cigarettes, and fake auto parts are but a small sample of the virtually unlimited supply of goods that have been counterfeited.
The United States Chamber of Commerce has done an excellent job of documenting the extent of this problem. I encourage anyone interested in learning about these issues to visit the Chamber's Web site for additional information or to take the time to watch the documentary Illicit which was produced by National Geographic and the Chamber.
Mr. Speaker, fighting piracy and counterfeiting, as you all know, is easier said than done because most of this illicit activity occurs outside our borders. In recent years, the Federal Government has made progress in improving both our domestic and global enforcement efforts, but it is also clear that achieving success in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting requires government-wide coordination and cooperation.
In addition to authorizing the Office of the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative, H.R. 4279 also raises the profile of IP enforcement within the Department of Justice through the creation of a new IP enforcement division. This is absolutely necessary in my opinion.
The bill creates an additional 10 attaches at the United States Patent and Trademark Office who will be assigned to work with foreign countries to better coordinate our international enforcement efforts.
And the bill enhances existing anti-piracy and counterfeiting criminal statutes, authorizes grants to assist local anti-piracy and counterfeiting efforts, and directs the Justice Department to refine its policies for investigating and prosecuting piracy and counterfeiting operations.
Before closing, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to note for the record three final amendments the managers agreed to incorporate into the bill. The first is designed to harmonize the cooperative provisions in title II of the bill.
The second, in section 301, places an affirmative limitation on the authority of the new IP enforcement representative that makes clear the official has no authority to control or direct law enforcement agencies in the exercise of their respective investigative or prosecutorial discretion in particular cases.
And the third, which amends section 323 of the bill, simply contains technical and conforming changes to make the text of the bill clearer.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize some of the stakeholders who have worked so diligently on this effort. Specifically, I'd like to note the efforts of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy, which has been so ably led by Mr. Rick Cotton; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which, of course, is led by President Tom Donohue; and the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, which is led by Representatives ADAM SCHIFF of California and BOB GOODLATTE of Virginia.
In closing, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4279, and I thank the distinguished gentleman from Texas for having yielded to me.