Victoria Espinel tapped for IP position


President Barack Obama on Friday afternoon named Victoria Espinel the new U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator, a position that will target, among other areas, the rampant piracy that has plagued the entertainment industry.

Congress created the position, which is part of the Office of Management and Budget, in 2008 to augment American efforts to prevent the exploitation of pirated or counterfeited movies, music and software, as well as other IP.

Espinel is the founder and president of Bridging the Innovation Divide, a not-for-profit focused on the "innovation divide." From 2007-09, Espinel was a visiting assistant professor at the George Mason University School of Law, focusing on IP and international trade issues. She has further served as an adviser on IP issues to the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Finance Committee, House Judiciary Committee and House Ways and Means Committee. In 2005, Espinel also became the first-ever Assistant United States Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, serving as chief U.S. trade negotiator on those subjects.

"Throughout a long and distinguished career working on intellectual property issues, Victoria has been on the front lines of efforts to protect the ideas that are the basis of our innovation economy," said Mark T. Esper, executive vp of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center. "Under Victoria's leadership, intellectual property protection, promotion, and enforcement will now be rightly elevated to the highest level of the executive branch, an important sign about the administration's commitment to protecting jobs throughout America's IP-intensive industries."

"Growing the economy, improving America's competitiveness, and protecting ideas go hand in hand because our economy is built on IP-driven innovation. In these uncertain economic times, it is more critical than ever that our government aggressively protect the rights of innovators and artists who are turning ideas into full-fledged inventions that create jobs and meet the public's needs."

According to the Chamber, America's IP-intensive industries employ nearly 18 million workers, account for over $5 trillion of the U.S. gross domestic product and comprise more than half of all U.S. exports.

Hollywood trade groups and entertainment firms lauded the nomination, which must be confirmed by the Senate.

"Espinel brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the position," said MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman. "We look forward to working with her in this new and increasingly important role."

Shortly after the appointment Friday, Hollywood's labor community commented on the decision. AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, SAG and WGAW released a statement that said, in part:

"There is no issue more important to our unions than the protection of the films and television programs that our members create. Too often in public debate these works are given the abstract labels of 'content' or 'information.' In reality, however, they are much more than that -- they are one of our country's greatest economic and cultural contributions loved by both the American public and by billions around the world. And, most importantly, they are not abstractions, they represent real jobs and real income to millions of people in this country."

Jay A. Fernandez reported from Los Angeles; Georg Szalai reported from New York.
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