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Nation’s Intellectual Property Czar Discusses Economic Impacts

in Intellectual Property/International by

WASHINGTON, September 29, 2010 – The nation’s intellectual property czar, Victoria Espinel, highlighted recommendations made in her office’s report addressing ways to improve IP enforcement at an event held by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

She was part of a Tuesday panel discussion titled “The Next Generation of IP Protection: Enhancing Global Economic Growth and Prosperity Event.” Participants included ITIF President Robert Atkinson, Emery Simon from the Business Software Alliance, and Morgan Reed, who is the executive director from the Association for Competitive Technology.

Espinel, whose official title is intellectual property enforcement coordinator from the Office of Management and Budget, addressed four of the 33 recommendations made in the 2010 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement. The goal of the plan is to outline recommendations for the various federal agencies in dealing with IP issues. While the plan has strong bipartisan support, it does not have funding specifically allocated to help execute it.

One of the four recommendations that Espinel mentioned was that the government must lead by example. By ensuring that the procurement process is secure, the government is able to protect the quality of the goods it uses. Initially, the program will focus on the Department of Defense since it faces unique challenges and improper equipment can cause direct harm to human lives. Additionally, that department oversees one of the largest procurement offices spanning the globe and includes a diverse set of goods such as tanks, printers and food. Espinel wants to encourage cooperation among all procurement offices across the federal government.

Espinel commended the negotiators of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in their efforts to try to come to an agreement. The trade agreement looks to create a single set of policies which will be followed globally in order to create better protection for consumers. However, she also emphasized the unique problem caused by China, which is not participating in the talks. While China is a large market, it is also a major violator of IP regulation. Additionally, many of the industrial policies that China has instituted make it difficult for American businesses to compete effectively, she said.

Atkinson said the United States is more dependent on IP than any other economy. In an effort to better quantify this, Espinel has supported the increased analysis of the value of IP to the economy. She would like to see how it affects job growth, job creation and other economic indicators. However, the precise numbers are hard to come by, and the ones pumped out by trade associations for different industry segments are constantly being disputed by other industry trade associations with differing economic interests.

The rest of the panel discussion, which followed Espinel’s address, echoed many of her statements. Steve Metalitz, a partner at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, supported the need for increased funding for Espinel’s office. Simon said that when software is pirated, it affects creators and end users. With increased piracy, software makers must implement increasingly complex anti-theft mechanisms that make usage difficult for legal users. Simon added that large corporations are often huge copyright violators when they share a single license with the entire company in violation of user agreements.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for BroadbandBreakfast.com since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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