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Attorney General Seeking Tougher IP Laws

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales proposed new legislation today that would strengthen penalties for copyright infringement, expand intellectual property protection and add critical enforcement tools.

Speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce summit on intellectual property protection, Gonzalez said the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2005 would implement broad forfeiture reforms to ensure the ability to forfeit property, including illicit proceeds, derived from or used in the commission of criminal intellectual property offenses.

The proposal also adds criminal penalties to intellectual property theft motivated by any type of commercial advantage or private financial gain. It would also strengthen restitution protection for victims of intellectual property theft.

"This is a comprehensive legislative package designed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) to help overhaul and update America's intellectual property statutes," Gonzalez said in prepared remarks. "This legislation is a reflection of the sustained commitment on the part of the Bush Administration, including the Department of Justice, to ensure that we are doing everything we can do to combat this problem."

Gonzalez also took the opportunity to stress the Bush administration's efforts to combat global piracy, including last year's Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP) initiative.

The government-wide program involving the DoJ and eight other federal agencies launched a series of domestic and international initiatives that enforces intellectual property rights.

"A challenge such as this one requires a commitment from every stakeholder: government agencies, small businesses, international partners, law enforcement officials, independent organizations, and many, many more," Gonzalz said. "Because of this cooperation, we're attacking the problem in a number of ways -- through enforcement, prevention, education, awareness and legislation."

Gonzalez warned intellectual property thieves, "There is nothing fake about our commitment to prosecute counterfeiters and pirates."

He said he would carry that message to China next week.

A recent U.S. Trade Representative placed China on the United States' Priority Watch List for intellectual property theft. Beijing joined Russia and 12 other trading partners that Washington says are not effectively protecting or enforcing intellectual property rights.

According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), software piracy in the Asia-Pacific region cost manufacturers close to $8 billion in 2004. Worldwide, losses due to software piracy were estimated at more than $32 million.

"I will be meeting with senior law enforcement ministers in China, and I plan to call on them for increased criminal enforcement of China's laws protecting the intellectual property rights of businesses in the U.S. and around the world," Gonzalez said.