Last week, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel released the 2012 U.S. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ENFORCEMENT COORDINATOR JOINT STRATEGIC PLAN.
Like previous reports, It touts lots of efforts and initiatives regarding counterfeiting and intellectual property violations. IP enforcement actions and investigations by homeland security, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies are up significantly.
And like previous reports, it contains nothing specific about aiding small businesses. And nothing about making sure the enforcement efforts are reasonable.
I’m not saying that these efforts are unreasonable. But I am uncertain as to whether anyone is guarding against over enforcement of intellectual property rights. This topic has popped up more often recently (see here too) in the wake of the SOPA and PIPA backlash but is still nascent. Is anyone charged with ensuring that the enforcement doesn’t go too far? Is Congress providing oversight? Are any other independent agencies or bodies monitoring and commenting on this situation? To my knowledge, they are not.
In my opinion, over enforcement of I.P. rights is at least as damaging to our economy as under enforcement. It stifles legitimate business. Ties up our courts with wasteful litigation. And requires parties to spend money that could be better spent on other things – research and development, marketing, new employees, etc. I fear that we are headed towards an IP system where companies that can afford access to courts and to legislators and government official will dictate our intellectual property policies. But these policies should protect all businesses, and the public. They should not be unduly influenced by big businesses.