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Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Seeks Intellectual Property Legislation

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while speaking at the US Chamber of Commerce's Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Summit, highlighted the Justice Department's efforts to protect intellectual property rights. He discussed a comprehensive legislative proposal, the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2005, which would strengthen penalties for repeat copyright criminals, expand criminal intellectual property protection, and add critical investigative tools for both criminal and civil enforcement.

"This is a comprehensive legislative package designed by the Department of Justice to help overhaul and update America's intellectual property statutes," said Gonzales. "This legislation is a reflection of the sustained commitment on the part of the Bush Administration, including the Department of Justice, to ensure that we are doing everything we can do to combat this problem."

If enacted, the proposed Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2005 would enhance the Department's ability to pursue crimes and protect the intellectual property rights of citizens and industries. It includes provisions to: implement broad forfeiture reforms to ensure the ability to forfeit property, including illicit proceeds, derived from or used in the commission of criminal intellectual property offenses; criminalize intellectual property theft motivated by any type of commercial advantage or private financial gain; and strengthen restitution provisions for victim companies and rights holders in order to maximize protection for those who suffer most from these crimes.

The proposed legislation is part of the Department's ongoing commitment to combat counterfeiting and piracy. In October 2004, the Bush Administration implemented the Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP) Initiative, a government-wide program designed to combat global piracy and counterfeiting. Under STOP, the Department of Justice and eight other federal agencies have collaborated on a series of domestic and international initiatives to secure trade, protect consumers, and enforce intellectual property rights. Through enforcement, prevention, education, awareness, and legislation, STOP agencies have brought a coordinated and comprehensive approach to this important endeavor.

As part of the STOP initiative, the Department created the Task Force on Intellectual Property in 2004. In October 2004, the Task Force issued a comprehensive report with recommendations to increase the Department's effectiveness in protecting intellectual property rights and enforcing federal intellectual property laws. In February 2005, Gonzales renewed the Department's commitment to the Task Force, announcing that the Department would implement all of the IP Task Force report's recommendations and would continue its aggressive strategy.

The Department of Justice continues to pursue and prosecute persons and organizations involved in piracy and counterfeiting. The Department indicted four individuals from one of the largest counterfeit goods operations in New England. Federal and state agents seized more than 30,000 counterfeit luxury goods and uncovered materials to manufacture at least 20,000 more items. In June, the Department led Operation Site Down, an international online piracy investigation involving more than 90 searches in twelve countries. The operation dismantled many of the leading organizations that illegally distributed and traded copyrighted software, movies, music, and games on the Internet. These cases, and others like them, represent the Department's commitment to protecting intellectual property rights. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner