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Obama's White House Loses Top IP Czar

Victoria Espinel had been strategizing the administration's IP efforts since 2009.

Victoria Espinel Headshot - P 2013
Getty Images

Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for the White House, has stepped down.

Appointed in 2009, she was responsible for working with various government agencies and helping strategize policy and action on the IP front. She was given the position with widespread support from the entertainment industry and has prioritized transparency and cooperation during her term. Her last day on the job was Friday.

Espinel made waves in January of 2012 when she distanced the White House from the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act amid protests.

At other times, she helped foster industries to work together to confront piracy, most notably working with major ISPs and content holders on the "Copyright Alert System" as well as a voluntary program aimed at stopping advertisements from appearing on websites primarily devoted to piracy. During her time, IP-related enforcement actions at the FBI, ICE and the U.S. Customs agency all grew significantly.

As "IP czar," she also was involved in the America Invents Act, the first comprehensive overhaul of U.S. patent law since the 1950s.

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In June, she outlined the Obama administration's new IP plan, which included action items like improving transparency in IP policymaking and international negotiations, improving law enforcement communication with IP stakeholders and educating authors on "fair use." The strategic plan also confronted emerging technologies such as mobile apps and 3D printing.

Before taking on the role as top IP aide in the White House, she was a deputy assistant at the USTR. She graduated from Georgetown University Law School and worked at some prominent law firms in DC before joining the public sector.

Howard Shelanski, of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will assume her duties until a replacement can be found.

In a statement, MPAA's senior evp for Global Policy Michael O'Leary said, "Victoria has been an important force in advocating for the meaningful protection of American creativity here and around the world. We have appreciated her commitment to a collaborative process as well as her leadership on these issues that are so crucial to the continued strength of our economy. We wish her the best and look forward to continuing to work with the Administration on these important issues."