IP Enforcement Coordinator Seeks Public Comments about Counterfeiting

The Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator seeks public comment about “how the U.S. Government can prevent counterfeits products from entering its supply chain.” In a recent press release circulated on August 9, IPEC Victoria Espinel confirmed that her office is leading a “U.S. Government anti-counterfeiting working group” comprising fourteen government agencies which have been tasked to provide legislative, regulatory and policy recommendations to address this problem.

Submissions are due by September 16, 2011 at 5 p.m. (presumably Eastern time, although no time zone is specified in the notice) and should be filed electronically at http://www.regulations.gov/ docket number OMB-2011-0003. If you are unable to submit your comments through this form, you can call James Schuelke (202/395-1808) to make arrangements for an alternate submission. You can also submit confidential materials in support of a public comment to Michael Lewis (intellectualproperty@omb.eop.gov).

The original Federal Register notice can be found here. It explains that the purpose of this request for comments is to “solicit feedback and best practices from industry, academia, research laboratories, and other stakeholders on issues related to identifying areas of common interest and compare progress and best practices to ultimately eliminating counterfeits in Federal Government supply chains.” 76 Fed. Reg. 153 at 48906.

The Notice identifies six objectives of the working group, along with six categories of questions to be addressed in submitted comments (covering the first five of the specific objectives and a sixth “general” area. The sixth objective is not specifically included in the enumerated questions). These six objectives are:

Objective #1—Develop procedures for program managers to identify items at risk for counterfeiting or requiring authentication of legitimacy. These procedures will, to the greatest extent practicable, utilize current industry standards.
Objective #2—Examine whether additional administrative actions, including regulatory actions, are needed to require suppliers to take stronger anti-counterfeiting measures.
Objective #3—Examine when and how product and package traceability, reporting and marking processes can be used by prime contractors, their suppliers, Federal government personnel and potentially other customers to confirm production authority by the original manufacturer of at-risk items.
Objective #4—Examine government/industry evaluation capabilities and determine whether improvement is needed.
Objective #5—Develop an anticounterfeiting training and outreach strategy for the Federal workforce.
Objective #6—Examine whether additional measures are needed to protect the rights and interests of the United States, recoup costs and prosecute offenders.

76 Fed. Reg. 153 at 48905.  The notice also explains that the working group is charged with “reviewing current industry standards, the ability of prime contractors and their suppliers to authenticate or trace at-risk items to the original manufacturer, government evaluation and detection capabilities and limitations, and contractual enforcement authority.”  Id.