DOJ launches intellectual-property-enforcement task force

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a new task force on intellectual property in an effort to crack down on a "growing number" of IP crimes in the U.S. and elsewhere, the agency announced.

The task force, announced Friday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, will focus on working with state, local and international law enforcement agencies to "combat intellectual property crimes," the DOJ said in a press release.

The task force will work closely with the recently established White House Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), which has the responsibility of drafting a strategic plan on IP for President Barack Obama's administration. The task force will recommend ways to improve IP enforcement, the DOJ said.

"The rise in intellectual property crime in the United States and abroad threatens not only our public safety but also our economic well-being," Holder said in a statement. "The Department of Justice must confront this threat with a strong and coordinated response."

U.S. officials have suggested that the counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals, vehicle parts and electronics can endanger the public. In some cases, pirated products also finance large criminal operations, officials have said.

It's unclear what IP crimes the task force will focus on. A DOJ spokeswoman didn't respond to e-mailed questions about whether the task force would focus on software, music or other IP, or whether it would focus on digital trading of music and other copyright items or on physical copies of materials protected by IP law.