DA Vance, Counterfeit Experts Discuss Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Age

September 27, 2013
Today, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau held a conference on the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the digital age. The conference was hosted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Attendees included cyber experts, members of state and federal law enforcement, and leaders in the business, technology, and legal professions. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., delivered the keynote opening address. Eric Friedberg, Co-President of Stroz Friedberg, LLC, and Brian Brokate, Treasurer of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, also delivered remarks. 
“As theft continues to move from street markets to digital markets, law enforcement must evolve to combat intellectual property theft and counterfeiting,” said District Attorney Vance. “Though my Office remains committed to investigating and prosecuting street counterfeiters, intellectual property theft is not limited to handbags and DVDs. From counterfeit prescription medication to counterfeit baby formula, criminally-made products skirt the law and threaten the health and safety of our citizens. Today’s conference is an important step in uniting leaders in the private sector with law enforcement to protect intellectual property rights and keep consumers safe.”
Every year, counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy between $200 billion and $250 billion, and are responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration.
The conference included two panels of experts moderated by senior prosecutors from the Manhattan DA’s Office. The first panel, entitled “Technology and Intellectual Property Enforcement,” focused on the increase in digital piracy and theft of digital intellectual property. Panelists discussed the use of new technologies to enforce intellectual property rights, and examined innovative techniques for protecting sensitive propriety information.
Assistant District Attorney Kenn Kern, Deputy Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, moderated this panel, which included: 
  • Jason M. Drangel, Partner, Epstein & Drangel LLP
  • Michael Hill, Enforcement Specialist, Rosetta Stone Ltd. 
  • Brian Lansing, Assistant General Counsel, Brand Integrity, Altria Client Services Inc.
  • Rubie Mages, Director of Strategic Planning, Global Security, Compliance Division, Pfizer Inc. 
The second panel, “Bridging the Gap: Best Practices for Effective Civil Enforcement and Criminal Prosecutions,” focused on how the increasingly digital nature of intellectual property has presented more complex challenges for law enforcement and brand holders. Panelists discussed previous successes in joint criminal and civil actions against intellectual property rights violators. They also examined best practices for joint enforcement actions between private industry and government entities, including legal and ethical requirements for lawyers, investigators, and rights holders. 
Executive Assistant District Attorney David M. Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division, moderated this panel, which included: 
  • Douglas A. Leff, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Marc P. Misthal, Partner, Gottleib, Rackman & Reisman, P.C. 
  • Jim Ricaurte, President, Allegiance Protection Group
  • John A. Squires, Partner, Perkins Coie
Earlier this week, DA Vance announced the recommendations of the New York State White Collar Crime Task Force, which included reforms to state law to better protect intellectual property rights. In the 102-page report, the task force recommended that digital information like computer code be better protected under theft laws, and called for more comprehensive laws on trademark counterfeiting. Convened in October 2012 during District Attorney Vance’s tenure as President of the New York State District Attorneys Association (DAASNY), the Task Force brought together a diverse and non-partisan group of legal experts, whose recommendations include procedural changes, as well as amendments to New York’s laws governing the prosecution of corruption, fraud (including elder fraud and tax fraud), cybercrime and identity theft, and money laundering. 
District Attorney Vance thanked the following individuals for their work in organizing the conference: Executive Assistant District Attorney David M. Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division, Assistant District Attorney Brenda Fischer, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Kenn Kern, Deputy Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Senior Cybercrime Analysts Jeremy Apple and Benjamin DiNapoli, Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau Administrator Paula Benigno, and Cybercrime Analyst Stephen Moccia.
District Attorney Vance also thanked Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Special Advisor Mayra Nieves, and the staff at John Jay College.