Three years ago, the Bush Administration introduced a new intellectual property rights initiative called Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP) and named a Coordinator for the program reporting the Secretary of Commerce. Both the private and public sector generally agree that the STOP program has shown that when a government program that touches the responsibilities and resources of many different government agencies enjoy some degree of coordinated oversight, common direction, and information sharing, improved results can follow. United States intellectual property policy and enforcement involves numerous agencies: the Department of Justice and the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (CBP and ICE), the Department of Commerce and the US Patent & Trademark Office, the US Trade Representative, the Department of State, and even safety agencies such the Food & Drug Adminsitration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Recognizing that the STOP Initiative is only one President's program, and that America's strongest industries are those that enjoy high rates of innovation, creativity and intellectual property protection, Senators Evan Bayh and George Voinovich introduced the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act (S. 522), which would permanently institutionalize the STOP program and promote further improvements in the way intellectual property enforcement, both domestically and internationally, is managed here in the United States. Recent studies by the Government Accountability Office have shown how further improvements in the management of our nation's IPR enforcement programs can be achieved. Similarly, the House Judiciary Committee approved the PRO-IP Act (HR 4279) yesterday, a comprehensive piece of intellectual property rights legislation that also includes in Title III IPR enforcement coordination provisions that draw on elements of the Bayh-Voinoivich legislation in the Senate. The House is expected to vote on HR 4279 in the coming weeks.
The stage is now set for the Senate to take up IPR enforcement legislation. The Bayh-Voinovich legislation contains two elements that were not taken up in the House-passed PRO-IP Act that deserve the Senate's consideration: (1) the engagement of the Office of Management & Budget in the group of agencies that play a role in more effective management of government resources devoted to IPR enforcement, and (2) improvement of international enforcement programs by calling on the United States and those other countries who are similarly committed to effective IPR enforcement to lead in the development of an international enforcement network. OMB involvement will ensure that those in government who are experts in effective management and assessment of performance will bring the needed critical analysis that measures what we are doing right and what can be done better. OMB can be accountable to Congress in this respect. The international network of countries who are committed to strong IPR enforcement ensures that as standards and best practices for effective law enforcement are agreed to, we do not become bogged down in reaching for a lowest common denominator that is characteristic of other international fora.
In addition to considering S.522, the Senate should also embrace the more comprehensive approach to IPR enforcement legislation by not only looking at the other provisions of the House-passed PRO-IP Act and other legislation pending in the Senate such as Senator Leahy's and Senator Cornyn's Intellectual Property Enforcement Act of 2007 (S. 2317) , but also passing legislation that adds dedicated IPR enforcment resources, both in terms of personnel and appropriations, to the key government agencies.