U.S. intellectual property protection goes worldwide

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Legislation has been introduced in the Senate aimed at reducing intellectual property theft internationally.

The legislation, called the International Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement Act of 2008, would require the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to spur countries where intellectual property rights have been violated to take specific steps to stop violations.

It would also provide funds to increase USTR's capability to work with developing countries to improve intellectual property protection and enforcement, and gives the president powerful enforcement tools to deal with countries that refuse to enforce restrictions on widespread theft of U.S. intellectual property.

The legislation is sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Max Baucus, D-Mont.

“This landmark legislation will serve as an important bridge in the battle to protect U.S. intellectual property rights overseas,” said Hatch in a statement. “With the rising tide of piracy and counterfeiting abroad, it is vital that we provide those working on the front lines with the tools they need to ensure that our nation's intellectual property rights are lawfully respected by foreign countries.”

The legislation would help protect U.S. software technology, which is often pirated in foreign countries. Katherine McGuire, vice president of government relations for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), said in a statement that the bill would enhance the conditions for innovation in America.

“Our industry – and indeed the wider U.S. economy and society -- thrive on creativity and innovation,” McGuire said. “American innovation depends on strong, comprehensive and enforceable intellectual property policies. Fortunately, the U.S. leads the world in protecting IP, which has been a key part of our success. And yet, too often our nation's innovators are ripped off by bad actors in nations where IP enforcement is not as strong.”

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