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Obama Appoints Intellectual Property Czar

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

President Barack Obama has appointed Victoria Espinel, a lawyer and former assistant US trade representative, as the first-ever intellectual property enforcement coordinator.  That position was created by Congress last year in the wake of widespread charges of piracy of US patents and copyrights by overseas manufacturers.

Kevin Burke, president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, whose members have been concerned about piracy, hailed the appointment as an effort to combat what he said is the "growing prevalence of counterfeit products crossing our borders."

"Each year Customs and Border Protection (CBP) consistently seizes more counterfeit apparel, footwear and fashion accessory products than any other goods imported into the United States," Burke said. "In 2008, fake footwear, apparel and fashion accessories accounted for more than 58 percent of all goods confiscated by CBP. Countless millions of dollars are lost each year because of counterfeiting."

At her Senate confirmation hearing, Espinel said: "I will work side-by-side with agencies, Congress, stakeholders and the public to ensure that the jobs that depend on intellectual property are not compromised by others unwilling to respect and enforce the rules of law."

December 8, 2009