US Congress Passes Customs Bill With Strong IP Enforcement Provisions 12/02/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)The United States Congress today (11 February) passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, establishing clearer rules on customs officials’ work to stop infringing goods from entering the US. The Act creates a new National IP Coordination Center for coordinating investigations, training and other activities. The bill, HR 644, bolsters copyright protection, putting customs officials on the same footing as the US Copyright Office. It contains provisions to stop imports of equipment intended to circumvent technological protection measures used to control access to copyrighted material. [Note: the bill also contains a separate provision making permanently forbidding taxes to be placed on internet access. More on this shortly.] At least three US Customs and Border Protection officials will be dedicated to the new coordination center. The government will work closely with the private sector on all aspects of the new measures, and will invite donations of technology for detecting IP infringing goods. The bill also foresees coordination with other governments. It was not immediately evident in the bill how wrongly seized or suspected goods or individuals will be handled. A full report to Congress on investigations and other activities will already be due by 30 June 2016. A version of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, HR 644, is available here. An entire section of the bill is dedicated to intellectual property rights, as follows: TITLE III—IMPORT-RELATED PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS Sec. 301. Definition of intellectual property rights. Sec. 302. Exchange of information related to trade enforcement. Sec. 303. Seizure of circumvention devices. Sec. 304. Enforcement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of works for which copyright registration is pending. Sec. 305. National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. Sec. 306. Joint strategic plan for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Sec. 307. Personnel dedicated to the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Sec. 308. Training with respect to the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Sec. 309. International cooperation and information sharing. Sec. 310. Report on intellectual property rights enforcement. Sec. 311. Information for travelers regarding violations of intellectual property rights. USTR Hails Outcome According to a release from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR): “The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 includes new tools and resources to help ensure that our trading partners live up to their commitments. This bipartisan bill: Establishes the Interagency Center on Trade Implementation, Monitoring, and Enforcement at USTR which brings together expertise from across government to aid in monitoring and enforcing U.S. trade agreements. This codifies into law a 2012 Executive Order that first created the interagency approach to boosting enforcement efforts. Creates a Trade Enforcement Trust Fund to provide new resources – authorized at $15 million per year – for trade enforcement efforts. Improves our ability to target trading partners who attempt to evade U.S. antidumping or countervailing duty orders. Bolsters enforcement tools to protect intellectual property rights, including by authorizing the seizure of circumvention devices, and by facilitating the seizure of suspect merchandise through improved coordination with intellectual property right holders. Strengthens the prohibition on importing goods made by forced labor Mandates a strategic multi-year plan for trade enforcement produced by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Establishes Centers of Excellence and Expertise for trade enforcement throughout U.S. Customs and Border Protection to bolster trade enforcement at ports of entry. Strengthens our ability to enforce intellectual property rights by creating a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and setting staffing and training requirements that enhance the federal government’s enforcement of IP rights at our borders. Ensures that customs and border patrol personnel are trained in the detection, identification, seizure, and forfeiture of cultural property, archaeological or ethnological materials, and fish, wildlife and plants that are taken illegally. Requires a report on the effectiveness of trade enforcement activities including looking at fraud prevention and transshipments. Improves international cooperation among law enforcement and customs officials to strengthen intellectual property rights enforcement. Gives the United States new, unprecedented measures to address unfair currency practices. The conference report creates a new, binding mechanism to confront countries that engage in unfair currency practices and requires the Administration to impose penalties on countries that fail to work with us.” Industry Applause The US Chamber of Commerce issued a statement of praise, calling today’s passage of the Customs Reauthorization bill by the US Senate is “a big win for intellectual property.” David Hirschmann, President and CEO of the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center, was quoted as saying: “The Customs bill is a big step forward to protecting the American people from dangerous counterfeit products. The bill also supports American companies that create jobs and develop the products and creative works that consumers crave. We applaud the efforts of those in the House and Senate who worked hard to ensure that this important legislation becomes law and look forward to its enactment.” A 9 February Chamber letter to Congress is available here. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) also issued a statement applauding the bill’s passage. “The legislation will streamline legitimate trade, deepen cooperation between enforcement agencies and rightsholders, and address a series of intellectual property issues, including codification of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Center as a formal institution within US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” it said. MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd was quoted as saying: “We are very pleased that the Senate has adopted The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The motion picture and television industry relies on the protection of intellectual property rights to create and distribute movies and TV shows around the world, supporting nearly two million American jobs. This bill promotes a vibrant creative economy by providing creators with modernized tools to protect their content and increase their global competitiveness. Passing a customs and enforcement bill is an accomplishment that has not been achieved in nearly twenty years.” Image Credits: flickr cc Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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 William New may be reached at email@example.com."US Congress Passes Customs Bill With Strong IP Enforcement Provisions" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.