IP crimes may fund terror groups

March 31, 2008 9:15:49 AM PDT
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey promised a government crackdown on intellectual property.

U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey visited Silicon Valley Friday, and promised a government crackdown on intellectual property -- an issue that technology leaders consider paramount.

Cisco, Adobe, Intel: they've all been victims of intellectual property theft: basically counterfeit criminals.

U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey was in San Jose on Friday, assuring the tech industry that the issue is high on his agenda.

"To put it very simply, the continuing world wide escalation of counterfeiting and piracy poses a threat to both our economy and our public safety," said U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Before leaving the audience with a panel of experts, the attorney general conveyed a number of success stories including operation Cisco Raider completed in February.

Agents made more than 400 seizures in Canada and the U.S. of counterfeit network components, worth an estimated $76 million dollars.

"It was just a terrific outcome. We're very pleased with the support of the justice department," said Cisco Brand Protection Director David Walters.

One area of concern for everyone is China. Last year 80 percent of the pirated and counterfeit goods seized originated from China. The illegal enterprises often involve other crimes.

"We've been able to establish ties from these organizations involved in intellectual property crimes to human trafficking, human smuggling, prostitution, forced child labor, narcotics smuggling, arms smuggling, so these are not victimless crimes," said Kevin Kozak from the Department of Homeland Security.

"We do have active dialogue with the Chinese. We do need to do more since so many of these products are from China," said Sigal Mandelker from the Department of Justice.

Last year, federal authorities convicted and sentenced 287 defendants on intellectual property charges. That represents a 35 percent increase from 2006 and a 92 percent increase from 2005.

Today's Silicon Valley audience gave those efforts high marks.

"The fact that you can move it into a criminal prosecution and add the risk of going to jail really has an impact on the people committing the crime," said David Brown from Intel Security.

The government says U.S. companies lose about $250 billion dollars a year because of counterfeit goods. Losses are in the technology sector account for about $40 billion dollars.


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