Intellectual Property Theft as Blood Sport
The escalation of physical, Internet and computing hardware and software has not put a dent in the thefts of intellectual property (IP) .
Although the referenced document stated that there was a 20 percent increase in the number of civil cases from 1994 to 2002, the alarming statistic is that, “Suspects with copyright violation as the lead charge comprised more than half (52 percent) of the IP referrals in 2002.” These cases are handled in both Civil and Federal courts. It may not be common knowledge, but IP “rights are rooted in copyright and patent protections in the U.S. Constitution” .
TRADEMARKS, TRADE SECRETS GO MISSINGWithin the arena of crime is the theft of trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights.
This pattern of theft has more recently spilled over into the Internet and other forms of electronic theft. The newspapers are rife with articles about software infringement and the unauthorized recording of music, etc. Recently there was a TV episode of Law and Order where the downtown of Manhattan was sighted as being the place to buy counterfeit high-end handbags. Many reports have suggested that counterfeit merchandise, may be assisting in the funding of terrorist activities. Table 1 on the link of the first citation showed that in 2002 Pakistan had $1,041,000,000 of mostly apparel imports seized. Apparel comprised up to 62 percent of Pakistan’s seized imports.
How much was not seized?
IP theft is an international problem that is affecting many nations and the relationship between nations. In an article in America.gov, Victoria Espinel, the principal U.S. trade negotiator on intellectual property rights (IPR) stated that, “Russia has made little progress in permanently closing down illegal production plants and bringing offenders to justice” .
INTERNATIONAL LEADERS IN IT THEFTChina and Russia are leaders in IP theft. Russia has been noted as having huge capacity to replicate CDs and DVDs. Eric Schwartz, vice president and special counsel to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, stated that “U.S. Industry lost over $1.7 billion last year alone to copyright piracy in Russia, and over $8 billion in the last five years.” These numbers came from 2005 research. It is also noteworthy that the numbers that suggest the loss of royalties do not refer to the lost tax dollars that could have gone into the U.S. Treasury.
It is important to realize that this is an organized assault, in that it takes extensive resources to orchestrate intellectual property theft. Clearly, it is improbable that the heads of states are colluding to perform these acts. More likely is the possibility that sympathetic criminal cells of different countries may be cooperating. Considering that IP theft requires money, knowledge, organization, equipment, distribution, transportation, credentials, designers, laborers, etc., it would suggest that groups or individuals with power are behind these illicit activities.
GOVERNMENT, TERROR LINKS?The countries or more specifically the government officials of countries that have IP theft going on at grander scales are seemingly either permissive or complicit with respect to these acts. The actual amount of dollars involved in IP theft has grown so large that it is attracting the worst elements of many countries. USINFO.STATE.GOV stated that, “piracy, counterfeits can be linked to organized crime” .
These matters have tremendous significance that is meshed into the fiber of U.S. corporate security and its economic health.
The outsourcing of American jobs is controversial, as is its impact on the U.S. economy and citizenry as a whole, but clearly having foreign countries illegally make our IP goods with overseas workers, in overseas factories, collecting U.S. dollars for unknown purposes foretells of an ominous outcome. With the U.S. economy faltering and vast amounts of money leaving our shores for unknown purposes, American industry has a duty to step up to the plate and call those to task who are charged with defending our borders.
This analysis would become a dilemma of monumental proportions if one of the recipients of monies derived from IP theft used the proceeds to purchase or develop a dirty bomb or some equally horrific weapon and send it to our shores.
- Motivans, Mark, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intellectual Property Theft, 2002. Internet site http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ipt02.pdf visited 01/22/08.
- Article 1, Sec. 8, cl. 8.
- Thomas, Jeffrey, Intellectual Property Theft in Russia Increasing Dramatically, 18 May 2005. Internet site http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2005/May/200505181657201CjsamohT0.9698755.html visited on 01/22/08.
- G8 Vows To Increase Fight Against Intellectual Property Theft, 2005. Internet site http://usinfo.state.gov/ei/Archive/2005/Jul/08-989233.html visited on 1/23/08.