Key Issues

IACC Advocates for Strong IP Protection

The IACC plays an active role in ongoing legislative efforts to improve intellectual property protection at the federal, state and international levels. Below are some of our key issues and initiatives.


1. Customs and Border Enforcement

Counterfeiting is, by its very nature, a trans-national concern. The overwhelming majority of counterfeit goods are manufactured in a handful of countries, before being distributed throughout the global marketplace. As such, national Customs agencies are often the first line of defense in identifying and interdicting illicit shipments before they can reach consumers. The IACC works to ensure that Customs personnel around the world have the necessary legal authority, tools, and funding to effectively carry out their mission of protecting consumers and legitimate businesses.

Transshipment / In-Transit Goods

Counterfeiters have developed increasingly sophisticated distribution chains in order to evade detection of their illegal smuggling, often seeking to "launder" their shipments through one or more countries before shipping them to their ultimate destination. The IACC strongly supports the adoption of laws and regulations that empower Customs agencies to detain and seize illegal shipments, even where those goods are merely passing through one country en route to another. The global nature of the counterfeit trade demands that Customs agencies take action whenever possible, and at minimum to share intelligence with their counterparts abroad.


Canada Bill C-8

The IACC welcomed the recent adoption of Canada's Bill C-8, which enacted many long overdue amendments to the country's statutory regime. Regrettably, the legislation failed to include provisions that would empower the Canada Border Services Agency to seize counterfeit goods passing through Canada, but documented for ultimate delivery in another country.
The IACC will continue to monitor Canada's implementation of Bill C-8, and to work with our partners in the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN) to advocate for additional enhancements to the country's laws.

2. Online Counterfeiting

While legitimate retailers increasingly leverage the Internet as a platform for the sale and distribution of their goods to consumers, the same is true of counterfeiters. The Internet's maturation as a commercial platform has created new opportunities for selling and advertising illegal goods, as well as an ever-widening pool of potential customers.
The shift to online distribution has raised a variety of practical difficulties for those seeking to enforce their rights against individuals who are able to operate with relative anonymity and beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts or law enforcement. The proliferation of this illicit trade online also poses a threat to consumers' confidence in the legitimacy of the Internet as a commercial platform. Addressing these problems is in everyone's interest. It is the responsibility of all of the players in the e-commerce ecosystem.
The IACC has long been a proponent of a "follow the money" approach to addressing the trafficking of counterfeit goods online. In January 2012, the IACC launched its RogueBlock program in partnership with some of the world's largest multinational brands and leading financial companies. The partnership's goal is to diminish the ability of criminal counterfeiters to process online payments, thereby decreasing the profitability of their illicit businesses.
Evolving technologies and business models often carry significant implications for intellectual property owners. These changes also frequently outpace the development of relevant legislation, leaving the courts to interpret old laws in a new context. The IACC regularly weighs in as a "friend of the court" in cases involving emerging issues related to intellectual property protection and enforcement in the 21st Century. Whether in the "brick and mortar" world, or online, the IACC remains a strong advocate for policies that acknowledge the fundamental property rights of creators and the inherent consumer protection rationale that historically underscores trademark law.

3. Criminal Legislation and Enforcement

Article 61 of the TRIPS Agreement states, "Members shall provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied at least in cases of willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale." The IACC supports the adoption and imposition of strong, deterrent penalties – including criminal penalties – consistent with the seriousness of the threats posed to consumers and legitimate businesses by counterfeiters.

Model State Criminal Counterfeiting Statute

While laws in the United States have provided strong criminal penalties at the federal level since the 1980s, the penalties available at the state level have often lagged behind. Nearly a decade ago, the IACC worked in collaboration with the International Trademark Association to develop the Model State Criminal Counterfeiting Statute. That model legislation provides a number of features in-line with the more-developed federal statute, and seeks to aid in developing uniform standards for adoption by state legislatures. Since its development, the Model has been used as the basis for new or amended statutes in seven states.


Trade Agreements

The strength of intellectual property protections is dependent upon the level of protections available throughout the supply and distribution chains. Strong laws in one country may be undermined by weak enforcement, or a lack of sufficient resources or priority in another. The WTO's TRIPS Agreement, which came into effect two decades ago as the primary international standard for IP protection and enforcement has not been updated to keep pace with changing technologies and modes of distribution. For that reason, bilateral and multi-lateral trade agreements have frequently served as a means to establishing more effective legal and enforcement standards with regard to intellectual property. The IACC engages with a variety of international fora to ensure that such agreements incorporate strong IP chapters, and encourage the further development of effective intellectual property protection and enforcement regimes.

The IACC supported the recent enactment of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, which provided a detailed framework for U.S. negotiating objectives in trade agreements. The coalition is closely following the ongoing plurilateral negotiations related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). 


Internet Governance

The rapid growth of legitimate online commerce in recent years has been accompanied by a significant increase in the use of the internet to facilitate sales of illicit counterfeit products in a broad range of product sectors. The IACC supports the adoption of balanced policies that will foster the development of the internet as a safe and trusted platform for consumers and legitimate manufacturers and retailers. To this end, the IACC seeks to engage in a number of ongoing policy debates within ICANN and other fora, to ensure that effective tools are available to protect intellectual property rights online. The IACC is a member of ICANN's Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC), and also engages directly with governments globally regarding legislative and policy initiatives that impact online commerce.