USPTO Sees Filesharing Dangers; US Officials Echo Industry Enforcement Efforts05/03/2007 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.By William New The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on 5 March announced a new report it said shows that distributors of the most popular filesharing programmes “repeatedly deployed features that they knew or should have known could cause users to share files inadvertently,” with potentially grave consequences for consumers and national security.The USPTO report, “Filesharing Programs and Technological Features to Induce Users to Share,” found that distributors have continued to deploy such devices despite “repeated warnings that these features could facilitate identity theft and breaches of personal and national security,” USPTO said in a release.The US government has in recent years increased its participation in formerly industry-heavy efforts to stop the free and unauthorised electronic sharing of files in the name of piracy prevention. Rights-holding industries have recently turned increasingly to citing alarming risks of counterfeiting and piracy, which has been echoed by government officials.In early February, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales addressed business leaders in Brazil and painted an alarming picture of injuries to people who unknowingly use counterfeit products of inferior quality, such as in health or transportation. His comments, released on 9 February, echoed the announcement of industry and international organisations to step up references to health and safety risks of counterfeiting and piracy at a high-level summit in Geneva one week before (IPW, Enforcement, 31 January 2007).During that Geneva anti-piracy conference, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, in Geneva at the World Trade Organization at the time, also highlighted piracy and counterfeiting problems to reporters. She singled out China as the biggest problem, and she suggested that governments sometimes have to speak for their industries abroad since the ramifications of speaking up could harm business. “[A]bout corporate executives, unfortunately whether it’s in the intellectual property rights area or many other trade disputes, frequently individual companies, corporations, feel very vulnerable to pressure from governments in countries where they do business,” she said.The USPTO report named five features in recent versions of five popular filesharing programmes that it said “could cause users to inadvertently distribute to others downloaded files or their own proprietary or sensitive files.”“Computer programmes that can cause unintended filesharing contribute to copyright infringement, and they threaten the security of personal, corporate, and governmental data,” Jon Dudas, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property, said in the release. Dudas is the Bush administration’s “point person on copyright policy”, according to USPTO, which is distinct from the US Copyright Office at the Library of Congress.Distributors were warned of the problem in hearings in the US Congress in 2003, after which many distributors adopted a code of conduct prohibiting the use of problematic features, including “search-wizard” and “share-folders”. But in 2004 and 2005, the same distributors deployed even more aggressive versions of these features, according to USPTO. Other features also were used by distributors.The patent office singled out alarming cases of filesharing with national security or consumer fraud implications. It is unclear what action, if any, will follow this report.Copies of the report were forwarded to the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Attorneys General. The report is available for Intellectual Property Watch subscribers: click here.William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"USPTO Sees Filesharing Dangers; US Officials Echo Industry Enforcement Efforts" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.