WASHINGTON … Experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Eaton Corporation and Pfizer Inc. today participated in a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness of the growing threat that counterfeit products pose to public health and safety as well as the U.S. economy. The panel also explored ways to enhance government and industry collaboration, including federal legislation.
The panelists included: William G. Ross, unit chief, National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Patrick Ford, senior director, Americas Region – Pfizer Inc.; Tom Grace, manager, Anti-Counterfeiting and Brand Protection – Eaton Corporation; and Kevin McLean, senior vice president, Global Marketing – Eaton Corporation.
“The protection of intellectual property is a top priority for Homeland Security Investigations, as counterfeit products represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy, often dangerous goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs,” said IPR Center unit chief, William G. Ross. “The IPR Center will continue to work closely with our industry partners in order to raise public awareness of the severe threats from counterfeit goods.”
The industry panelists voiced their support for measures that would enhance collaboration between federal law enforcement and industry, such as legislation that would give federal law enforcement agencies the authority to notify rights holders of potential counterfeits before officials seize those goods. Current law prevents such information sharing prior to seizures.
“We strongly support measures that will pave the way toward more effective industry and government collaboration on detection and enforcement,” said Kevin McLean, senior vice president, Global Marketing – Eaton Corporation. “The problem is complex, and we need to address it meaningfully before it gets worse.”
HSI investigated nearly 2,000 intellectual property cases last fiscal year, which resulted in 365 arrests, 216 indictments and 170 convictions. HSI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also made 19,959 IPR seizures topping $1.4 billion manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) in FY 2010 - a 34 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
June is National Safety Month and the panel discussion focused on specific threats posed by counterfeit pharmaceuticals and electrical products, which DHS classifies as “safety and security items.” Safety and security items accounted for $32.4 million, or 13 percent, of the dollar value of DHS-seized property in that category.
For Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest biopharmaceutical company, counterfeit medicines are a matter of patient health and safety. Because of this risk to patient health, Pfizer has implemented an aggressive and focused anti-counterfeiting campaign to detect, disrupt and deter major manufacturers and distributors of counterfeit Pfizer medicines.
“Since 2004, we have prevented almost 65 million doses of counterfeit Pfizer medicines from reaching patients,” said Patrick Ford, senior director, Americas Region – Pfizer Inc. “By attacking counterfeits at their source, we disrupt their flow to the global market.”
HSI is the largest investigative arm of DHS. DHS is a cabinet department of the federal government, and was created in response to the events of September 11, 2001. DHS’s primary responsibilities are protecting U.S. territory from terrorist attacks and responding to natural disasters. The Department’s fiscal year 2011 budget totals $98.8 billion.
The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center is led by HSI and includes partners from CBP; FBI; Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; Postal Inspection Service; Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration; Patent and Trademark Office; Naval Criminal Investigative Service; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; Army Criminal Investigative Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit; General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General; Consumer Product Safety Commission; Defense Logistics Agency, Office of the Inspector General; Air Force Office of Special Investigations; Department of State, Office of International Intellectual Property Enforcement; INTERPOL; Government of Mexico, Tax Administration Service; and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.
Eaton’s electrical business is a global leader in power distribution, power quality, control and automation, and monitoring products and services. Eaton’s global electrical product series, including Cutler-Hammer®, Moeller®, Powerware®, Holec®, MEM®, and Santak® provide customer-driven solutions to serve the power system needs of the public sector, data center, industrial, institutional, utility, commercial, residential, IT, mission critical, alternative energy and OEM markets worldwide.
Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company with 2010 sales of $13.7 billion. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2011, Eaton is a global technology leader in electrical components and systems for power quality, distribution and control; hydraulics components, systems and services for industrial and mobile equipment; aerospace fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic systems for commercial and military use; and truck and automotive drivetrain and powertrain systems for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has approximately 70,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 150 countries. For more information, visit www.eaton.com.