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Intellectual Property Enforcement Program

Protecting Public Health, Safety, and the Economy from Counterfeit Goods and Product Piracy
FY24 Funding Available


The Bureau of Justice Assistance manages the Intellectual Property Theft Enforcement Program (IPEP) in coordination with the Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Task Force on Intellectual Property. This program is designed to build the capacity of state and local criminal justice systems to address criminal IP enforcement through increased prosecution, prevention, training, and technical assistance availability. The IP Enforcement Program covers expenses related to performing criminal enforcement operations; educating the public and law enforcement professionals about IP crime to prevent, deter, and identify criminal violations of IP laws; establishing task forces to conduct investigations, forensic analyses, and prosecutions; and acquiring equipment to conduct investigations and forensic analysis of evidence.

The IP Theft Enforcement Grant Program has enhanced the capacity of jurisdictions across the United States to detect and respond to IP crimes in their communities, and has launched a national training and outreach initiative to increase knowledge and awareness of the importance and cost of IP theft. To date, IP state/local task forces efforts have resulted in 3,552 arrests, 908 search warrants, disruption/dismantling of 1,882 organizations, and seizure of $266,164,989 dollars in counterfeit goods; which indicates the success of the state and local law enforcement agencies task forces and recognition of the importance of devoting resources to this issue.

About IP Crime

IP crime refers to the violation of criminal laws that protect copyrights, patents, trademarks, other forms of intellectual property, and trade secrets, both in the United States and abroad. DOJ has made the protection of intellectual property a major law enforcement priority. DOJ recognizes that innovation is a central pillar of our nation's economy and crucial to enabling American businesses to remain competitive in a global market. Our entrepreneurs require protection from criminals here and abroad who would copy their creations with less expensive or dangerous imitations. Improving our nation's capacity to respond to IP crime is also crucial to the protection of the American public from the exposure to dangerous and deadly goods, including counterfeit pharmaceuticals, substandard automobile parts, and lead-tainted jewelry.

Research has shown that IP crimes are closely related to and support other crimes, including violent crime. A report by the Rand Corporation found that "Counterfeiting is widely used to generate cash for diverse criminal organizations. In the case of DVD film piracy, criminal groups are moving to control the entire supply chain, from manufacture to distribution to street sales, consolidating power over this lucrative black market and building substantial wealth and influence in virtually every region of the globe. Counterfeiting is a threat not only to the global information economy, but also to public safety and national security."1 The provision of increased resources to state and local law enforcement to address IP crime may exponentially affect the ability of organized criminal networks to engage in other types of crimes that affect the health and safety of all Americans.

In addition, IP crimes pose a serious threat to the health and safety of every American. Counterfeit and pirated products can be harmful, and sometimes deadly, to consumers. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, foods, technologies, and other goods are not inspected or approved by regulatory bodies, and therefore do not comply with established safety regulations. For instance, investigations have revealed that counterfeit toothpastes have been made with chemicals found in antifreeze; counterfeit brake pads have been manufactured using sawdust, kitty litter, and dried grass as their primary components. Public safety is assured not only by directly combating organized criminal networks, but by educating and enabling law enforcement officers to recognize the threats that every day products pose to the public when they are produced and sold outside of the bounds of legal commerce.

Finally, IP is a central component of the U.S. economy, and the United States is an acknowledged global leader in its creation. According to the United States Trade Representative, "Americans are the world's leading innovators, and our ideas and intellectual property are key ingredients to our competitiveness and prosperity."2 Ensuring that existing IP laws are aggressively enforced is in the interests of American economic prosperity, job creation, and economic recovery.

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Date Created: February 17, 2012