US Government Ramps Up Efforts To Combat Counterfeits & Hacking

Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Getty Images.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch unveiled the U.S. Justice Department’s “expansive new strategy for combating fraudulent goods” at a roundtable in Boston on Friday.

The plan, Lynch said, will involve closer collaboration between the FBI and the businesses, entrepreneurs and other industry leaders whose intellectual property is most at risk. It will also include a $3.2 million payout to state and local law enforcement agencies in 10 jurisdictions across the country through the department’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Program.

“Through this new approach, we intend to provide information and resources to individuals and companies that will help them identify and disrupt attempts on their intellectual property, extend greater protection to American commerce as a whole and safeguard the health and safety of individual Americans,” Lynch said.

The Attorney General said data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests that the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods accounts for up to $250 billion each year — “not including the harm caused by the unauthorized online distribution of copyrighted works or the tremendous damage to innovators.”

Hacking and cyber bullying are also among the major intellectual property issues the justice department intends to combat more aggressively, Lynch noted.

“High-profile instances of hacking — even against large companies like Sony and Target — have demonstrated the seriousness of the threat all businesses face and have underscored the potential for sophisticated adversaries to inflict real and lasting harm,” Lynch said.

Footwear organizations, such as the American Apparel and Footwear Association, have brought significant attention to the impact of the proliferation of counterfeit goods on the shoe industry.

This year, the AAFA aggressively targeted giant China-based e-tailer Alibaba Group, accusing it of allowing the sale of counterfeit goods on its Taobao platform.

In response to the allegations, an Alibaba spokesperson told FN that the company had enacted a list of rules and procedures to address the potential sale of counterfeit goods on its websites.

China continues to be the No. 1 source of counterfeit goods, according to the latest government data.