Daniel Marti, the new White House IP czar, set himself up as the industry’s new ally in the fight to protect intellectual property. IP theft is a battle that media, advertising and entertainment companies have been waging ever since teenagers began ripping CDs.
Movies, music, software, books, patents, and brands contribute 40 million jobs, generates $5 trillion of the gross domestic product and represents 60 percent of U.S. exports, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
“The story of intellectual property is the story of commerce. It is the story of our nation. Every industry produces or relies on in,” said Marti Thursday in his first public speech since he took over in March as the Administration’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator (IPEC).
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington, Marti outlined an ambitious agenda to tackle a wide range of IP issues, including protecting U.S. trade secrets and curbing abusive patent litigation.
But he spent the most time talking about protecting intellectual property and copyright in the creative community, an area where, as managing partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, he devoted most of his career working for brands such as Tory Burch, Adidas, and American Eagle Outfitters.
“The creative community has been especially hard hit,” Marti said. He took a hard line against rogue web sites that sell counterfeit goods or steal copyrighted material and make a living off advertising to the traffic generated by freeloaders.
“We must stand united to preserve a free and open Internet, while at the same time we must reject a cultural indifference about what represents a crime on the Internet. We cannot turn a blind eye just because the theft occurs online,” Marti said.
Noting that criminals “rack in millions from advertising,” Marti advocated a multifaceted approach that included voluntary initiatives to reduce the financial incentives that support online infringement and counterfeiting.
Giving a nod to the voluntary efforts taken so far, Marti praised the steps taken by advertisers and ad networks as “meaningful” in stopping the financial support that props up infringing sites.
Encouraging voluntary actions in the private sector to protect intellectual property isn’t new to the Administration. Victoria Espinel, the former IP czar, also pushed the industry to step up.
Since then, a coalition of advertising and marketing groups recently launched TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group), to eliminate fraud, piracy and malware and to cut off the advertising that goes to infringing sites.
Mike Zaneis, the CEO of TAG and the general counsel of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, said he welcomed Marti’s strong leadership. “We look forward to strengthening the public/private partnership in this area.”
“Brand owners face a number of risks, from cybersquatting to preemptive bad faith registrations….We [also] need to do a better job to choke off funding to sites selling counterfeit goods,” Marti said.
As hundreds of new top level domains hit the Internet, Marti also raised questions about how to protect trademarks. “I spent the greater part of my career on [Icann issues]. I have some eagerness to jump in and work with you to make sure we’re doing everything we can to enforce rights and look for additional protections. These are issues we need to focus on if we’re going to make a dent in the counterfeit community.”
Marti is the second IP czar, a position created in 2008 under the Pro-IP Act. The position has been vacant since August 2013, when Espinel left to head up BSA/The Software Alliance.