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The Justice Department is claiming significant progress in the fight to combat theft of intellectual property. In a draft of a report due to be released this month, the department’s two-year-old intellectual property task force touts federal efforts that nearly doubled the number of defendants charged with federal intellectual property crimes in 2005 over the previous year. Among the recent busts: an undercover sting operation in China that netted 440,000 counterfeit erectile-dysfunction tablets, an indictment in Detroit charging 19 defendants with trafficking in bogus pharmaceuticals and fake Zig-Zag rolling papers to finance support of the insurgent group Hezbollah, and the convictions of 28 people in an investigation probing the illegal distribution of camcorder movies on the Internet. A key to the success, according to the report: the expansion of Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) teams at U.S. attorney’s offices across the nation. The report also notes the department’s efforts in other areas, including filing 13 amicus briefs in IP cases before the Supreme Court over the past two years and its publicity campaign to discourage online file sharing. But the business community shouldn’t rely only on the feds to protect its intellectual property rights, says Kyle Sampson, the chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the chair of the task force. “One of the things we’ve made clear is that it’s a partnership,” he says. “IP-rights holders have to enforce their rights as well.”
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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