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Highlights

Intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement is inadequate in parts of the world, resulting in significant losses to U.S. industry and increased public health and safety risks. GAO was asked to evaluate U.S. government efforts to enhance protection and enforcement of IP overseas. Using a case study approach, this report (1) describes the key IP protection and enforcement issues at four posts in China, India, and Thailand; (2) assesses the extent to which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) IP attach?s and the Department of Justice (DOJ) IP Law Enforcement Coordinator (IPLEC) effectively collaborate with other agencies at the posts; and (3) evaluates the extent to which each of the posts has undertaken interagency planning in collaborating on its IP-related activities. GAO examined U.S. government documents and interviewed headquarters and post agency officials as well as U.S. private-sector and host-country representatives.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of State 1. To more effectively ensure that activities at U.S. posts with USPTO IP attaces consistently address the key IP protection and enforcement issues identified by the U.S. government, the Secretary of State should direct post leadership in countries with USPTO IP attaches to work with the USPTO IP attaches to develop annual IP interagency work plans to be used by the post IP working groups with input from relevant agencies, which set objectives and identify activities for addressing key IP protection and enforcement issues defined by the U.S. government, taking into account the range of expertise of responsible agencies, available resources, and agency specific IP goals.
Closed - Implemented
In response to our recommendation, the Department of State issued a cable in November 2009 to those posts with IP attaches at the time, noting the Department's concurrence with our recommendation and directing post leadership to work with IP attaches to determine how to effectively apply GAO's suggestions and implement the recommendation. Subsequently, the 6 posts that currently have IP attaches have developed interagency IP work plans for 2011. Per our recommendation, these completed plans include IP protection and enforcement issues and objectives, specify how members will accomplish the objectives, and name which agencies will be responsible. Also per our recommendation that the plans be annual plans, 5 of the 6 interagency work plans specifically identify deliverables to be accomplished within 12 months as well as long-term deliverables.

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