Intellectual property, known as IP, plays a key role in the nation’s economic foundation. According to a recent report by the United States Department of Commerce, almost one-third of all American jobs are connected to intellectual property in some way. Connections to IP include jobs with large movie studios, software developers, pharmaceutical companies or any other position that relies on copyrights, trademarks or patents. As a result, the IP market clearly has a large impact on the nation’s overall economic stability.
This Commerce Department report adds fuel to ongoing debates over legislation focusing on copyrightinfringement, anti-piracy and cybersecurity. The White House has taken notice and stated in the recently released 2011 U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Annual Report on Intellectual Property Enforcement that the country has made “great strides” in implementing a plan to fight intellectual-propertytheft.
Details of White House’s IP Report
The White House report outlines an agreement between major Internet service providers as a key step towards combating IP theft. Providers involved include AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon and Time Warner Cable along with major movie and music studios. The agreement basically gives these providers power to “manage their networks to prevent content piracy” and focuses on misuse of peer-to-peer networks.
A peer-to-peer network is a system that allows two or more computers to share files. This can be done in many ways, including over the Internet. Napster is an example of a famous peer-to-peer network used for sharing music files.
When a customer’s account use indicates the possibility of infringing activity on peer-to-peer networks, the new agreement allows the provider, after issuing the consumer a series of six warnings, to “temporarily affect the user experience in a manner that is reasonably tailored to educate the subscriber, discourage infringing activity consistent with the Federal Communication Commission Open Internet Order and in a manner sensitive to the legitimate needs of subscribers of an Internet connection.” A safeguard to the consumer is included. In order for these actions to take place, detection of infringement requires analysis by a neutral third party.
In addition, the plan seeks to cut off funds to piracy operations and increase enforcement for violations. Major credit-card companies, including Visa and American Express, agreed to develop a best-practices plan to withdraw payment services for sites that are identified as selling counterfeit and pirated goods. Enforcement activities such as seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods, investigations and arrests of those associated with counterfeit operations are projected to increase.
Although the plan offers an additional layer of protection for trademark, patent and copyright holders, violations of these rights still occur. If your rights as a trademark, patent or copyright holder are violated, injunctive relief may be available to stop infringement. This can be difficult, and it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced intellectual property attorney to ensure all your legal rights and remedies are protected.