Intellectual Property Bill Moves in Congress

Late last week there was movement on intellectual property legislation, HR 4279. The bill was introduced last December and was recently approved by a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee to move to the full committee. The full text of the bill and other information is available through THOMAS.

The bill focuses on enforcement of intellectual property, with enhanced penalties for infringement of copyrights, counterfeiting (and trafficking in counterfeit goods); additional enforcement staff to help coordinate international enforcement efforts (including a new Division at the Justice Department for IP enforcement); and grants to local law enforcement agencies to improve their capacity to handle IP crime.

A major change made by the subcommittee was to remove a provision that would have allowed courts to break up a copyright-infringement lawsuit into parts when considering damages. This would allow for a large increase in potential damages and was considered by some as potentially chilling innovation. The provision may reappear when the full committee considers the bill.

There are many other IP related issues that could see legislative action this session. Most of them are disconnected with concerns over piracy, which makes this legislation different.

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