U.S. government efforts to protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) rights domestically and overseas are crucial to preventing billions of dollars in losses to U.S. industry and IP rights owners and to avoiding health and safety risks resulting from the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. IP protection and enforcement cut across a wide range of U.S. agencies and a coordinating structure has evolved to address coordination issues. First, Congress created the interagency National Intellectual Property Rights Law Enforcement Coordination Council (NIPLECC) in 1999. Later, in October 2004, the Bush administration initiated the Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP). GAO's testimony focuses on (1) the effectiveness of NIPLECC and STOP as a coordinating structure to guide and manage U.S. government efforts; and (2) the extent to which STOP meets the criteria for an effective national strategy. This statement is based on GAO's November 2006 report (GAO-07-74), which included an assessment of STOP using criteria previously developed by GAO. In this report, we recommended that head of NIPLECC, called the IP Coordinator, in consultation with the National Security Council and relevant agencies (1) clarify in the STOP strategy how NIPLECC will carry out its oversight and accountability roles and (2) take steps to ensure that STOP fully addresses the characteristics of a national strategy. The IP Coordinator concurred with our recommendations.
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