by Amy Antenora
Managing Editor, aftermarketNews.com
DEARBORN, MI — Organized crime, gang activity and terrorism. What do these three things have in common? Shared characteristics of intellectual property rights (IPR) violations.
Last Thursday, Sept. 9, officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office gathered in Dearborn, Mich., to brief automotive industry and aftermarket executives on their role in anti-counterfeiting and IPR investigations.
The event hosted by ICE in conjunction with the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, brought together government and industry executives to learn more about IPR violations, protection and laws.
While the 125 industry executives who turned out for this event came looking for assistance and information, the people at ICE came with the same intentions. Seven representatives from the ICE and other related government agencies spoke at the event. The conversation ranged from basic explanations of what trademarks and copyrights are to how the government and ICE can enforce IPR laws.
ICE is dedicated to protection not only of physical security but economic security as well. And today, the government is taking a closer look at the connection between the economy and counterfeiting violations. Brian Moskowitz, ICE special agent in charge, said that the office is now noticing very similar characteristics between smuggling and trafficking of narcotics and counterfeiting. He said they’ve seen a “major shift” with IPR violations taking on the same characteristics as organized crime activity. Counterfeiting is easier and offers more money than other similar types of crimes such as drug trafficking. Currently five to eight percent of all goods sold worldwide are counterfeit.
Speakers at the event emphasized that the automotive supplier industry must educate the government on the industry and its language in order to help fight IPR violations in this industry.
The group offers several suggestions on how the industry can be more proactive when it comes to IPR protection:
* Let upper management know that IPR is an economic issue
* Know the difference between IPR terms and what can or cannot be prosecuted
* Know which states have counterfeiting and piracy laws
* Report violations to local, state and federal enforcement
* Register your copyrights and trademarks
* Initiate and enforce cease and desist orders
* Coordinate intelligence efforts with your trade association
“The IPR is here to provide a service,” said David Faulconer, acting section chief of the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center. “We want to hear from you. Flood us with your calls. We have a few young agents who would like nothing better than to lock up a bad guy.”
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