K Street lobbyists focused on intellectual property protection are learning its a tough time to be heard in Washington, D.C., if your issue does not entail banks, automobiles or, well, banks.
Despite the flurry of czars named by President Barack Obama in his first three months in office, still yet to be named is the new intellectual property enforcement coordinator, or IP czar, created under the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007, or PRO-IP Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush last October.
Clearly, the White House is going to want to staff and fund the IPEC position, said Chris Merida, director of Congressional and public affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which supported the legislation. But it makes for a hard case with appropriators, to ask for money, if the person hasnt been nominated yet.
The legislation, authored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), called for the new position to be placed within the executive office of the president but left many of the decisions, including structure and staffing, to the discretion of the president.
The Obama administrations focus on the economy has forced lobbyists who represent the diverse range of groups that supported the bill, from labor and pharmaceuticals to software companies and movie studios, to strike a delicate balance in pushing their interests against the weight of the global economic meltdown.
Were holding meetings, making calls and tracking it closely, said a lobbyist from the entertainment industry. But its a balance of how much pressure to apply without appearing insensitive or risking long-term, negative impact on the industry.
Industry sources say three people Shira Perlmutter, executive vice president of global legal policy for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Victoria Espinel, a visiting law professor at George Mason University, and Sandra Aistars, assistant general counsel for intellectual property at Time Warner have emerged as frontrunners for the job of coordinating government-wide efforts to stem the wave of counterfeiting and piracy that now costs the U.S. economy around $250 billion a year.
There doesnt seem to be a problem with the names being floated, said a lobbyist familiar with the issue. So the question is why we havent heard any announcement or indication from the White House?
As the appropriations process moves into high gear, advocates both in and outside of Congress have taken to pen and paper to reinforce to the White House the importance of filling and fully funding the IPEC position.
The bills sponsors in the House sent a letter to Obama in February outlining a proposed structure for the new office, followed by a letter in March from the four Senate sponsors, who urged the president to nominate the IPEC and ensure that it is prioritized and properly resourced within the White House.
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