Posted by Nancy Anderson
Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel

This week the Obama Administration released the nation’s first-ever Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement. Joining Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel in announcing the plan were Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. The plan demonstrates the Administration’s strong commitment to protecting intellectual property and promoting job creation and growth. Microsoft is pleased to support it.

As the Joint Strategic Plan recognizes, “Intellectual property supports jobs across all industries, and in particular where there is a high degree of creativity, research and innovation.” A prime example is the software industry, which has been a remarkable engine for jobs and economic growth. According to the Business Software Alliance, the software and related services sector employed almost 2 million people in the United States in 2007, in jobs that paid 195 percent of the average wage. The sector contributed more than $261 billion to U.S. GDP in 2007, making it the largest of the U.S. copyright industries, and its overseas earnings added a $37 billion surplus to the U.S. balance of trade in 2009.

The Administration plan charts action-oriented goals aimed at preserving these contributions. Key pillars of the plan include commitments to:

· Lead by example to ensure that the federal government does not purchase or use IP-infringing products;

· Support transparency in the development of enforcement policy, information sharing and reporting of law enforcement activities;

· Enhance coordination to increase efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement efforts at the federal, state and local levels and to maximize the effectiveness of the U.S. government’s international training efforts;

· Work with trading partners and international organizations to better enforce American intellectual property rights in the global economy; and

· Secure supply chains to stem the flow of IP-infringing products through law enforcement efforts and enhanced cooperation with the private sector. (In connection with this last point, we were pleased to see the plan recognize Microsoft’s role in voluntary industry efforts to help prevent the sale of sponsored search-engine advertising for unlawful businesses selling counterfeit medications online.)

By leveraging the expertise of agencies across government and promoting cooperation and coordination of resources and programs, the Joint Strategic Plan promises to deliver on the goals Congress identified in enacting the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO-IP) Act in 2008.