President Bush has created a new senior-level position to fight the global piracy and counterfeiting of American products ranging from Hollywood movies to Detroit auto parts, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said on Friday.
"Intellectual-property theft is a major problem around the world. We believe that it is costing U.S. businesses about $250 billion in lost sales" annually, Gutierrez in an interview with Reuters.

"Our businesses thrive on innovation, on ideas, on creativity ... That's how our country has grown. And we cannot allow a world trading environment to be created where patents and trademarks and brands are not respected," Gutierrez said.

Bush has tapped Chris Israel, currently deputy chief of staff for Gutierrez, to head up the administration's anti-piracy efforts. China -- where 90 percent of music and movies are pirate copies -- will be a chief priority.

"Frankly, our goal is to reduce (China's piracy levels) to zero," Gutierrez said. He declined to specify a timetable, but acknowledged it could be a lengthy effort.

Israel was a public policy executive at Time Warner Inc., a media company with strong interests in intellectual property rights, before joining the Commerce Department. He also has worked in Congress as a legislative aide.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat whose California district is home to big entertainment companies like DreamWorks and Disney, said he hoped Bush's decision signaled a more serious campaign to stamp out intellectual property theft.

"Thus far, the administration really hasn't thrown its weight behind the anti-piracy effort," Schiff said.

Gutierrez got a first-hand view on how readily available pirated films and music are in China during a visit earlier this month, when he was offered the chance to buy an illegal copy of the newest "Star Wars" movie for $1, an aide said.

The United States will closely monitor a long list of anti-piracy pledges China made at this month's high-level Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting, including a promise to increase criminal prosecutions, Gutierrez said.


The skyrocketing U.S. trade deficit -- which reached a record $618 billion last year -- has compounded U.S. concerns about piracy and counterfeiting... (Continued Here)


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