What We Do
The IPR Center coordinates the U.S. government’s response to counterfeiting and intellectual property crimes.
Intellectual Property Rights
The IPR Center relies on partnerships with government agencies and private industry to protect the U.S. from intellectual property theft that puts the economy, American public and national security at risk.
These partner agencies have dedicated special agents and analysts who identify intellectual property threats within their agency’s scope, share that information with involved parties, and partner with relevant government and intellectual property rights holders to investigate and stop predatory and illegal trade practices. This collaborative, holistic approach allows for data, resources and information to flow across organizations, bringing a synergy of expertise to investigative efforts.
In 2009, the automotive industry alerted the IPR Center to emerging health and safety threats related to the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit automotive parts and equipment. Operation Engine-Newity was created as a collaborative effort between HSI, CBP, the FBI and other partner agencies to address threats like counterfeit airbags. Under this operational umbrella, the IPR Center continues to develop investigative leads for field agents, support ongoing investigations and work closely with industry experts.
Operation in Our Sites
Operation in Our Sites is a strategic offensive targeting the distribution of counterfeit products, pirated movies and television content through websites. Initiated in June 2010, IOS counters online IP criminal activity by disrupting and dismantling organizations through criminal investigations, domain name seizures and asset seizures and arrests. These actions target both individuals operating illegal websites and those using legitimate websites to conduct criminal activity.
Operation Apothecary, launched in 2004, combats the vulnerabilities around how pharmaceuticals enter the U.S. marketplace, in particular the criminals who smuggle commercial quantities of counterfeit, unapproved, and/or adulterated drugs through the internet, international mail facilities, express courier hubs and land borders.
Operation Team Player
The sale and trafficking of counterfeit sports merchandise, tickets and apparel is a multimillion-dollar criminal industry, and Operation Team Player was created to target the manufacturers and sellers of these items—shutting them down and bringing them to justice.
Operation Body Armor
Operation Body Armor targets the illegal importation of unapproved, counterfeit or adulterated personal healthcare and beauty products into the U.S. As online sales have skyrocketed, incidents of illegal product importation have dramatically increased. Several federal government agencies have joined forces with the health and beauty industry to combat smuggling and safeguard U.S. consumers.
Operation Chain Reaction
In June 2011, Operation Chain Reaction launched with the combined expertise of 16 agencies to combat the proliferation of counterfeit goods into the Department of Defense and federal government supply chains.
Operation Surge Protector
The prolific use of consumer electronics and technology products generated an opportunity for criminals to create and sell counterfeit devices. These products are often manufactured with substandard materials and without testing or passing safety requirements, posing a real public health and safety risk. To address this, Operation Surge Protector was created in 2016 to stop the criminal trade of electronic components and devices that can malfunction and cause serious injury.
The Tobacco Program investigates domestic and international smuggling of cigarettes, trafficking in counterfeit and stolen cigarettes and international money laundering where an underlying crime is tobacco related.
The IPR Center’s Commercial Fraud Unit coordinates investigative efforts, national programs, and operations related to crimes involving individuals and entities who try to defraud or evade U.S. trade laws and trade agreements. Criminal schemes include false declarations of value, quantity, or country of origin. CFU collaborates with the IPR Center’s public and private sector partners to uncover and disrupt schemes that may harm the U.S. economy and domestic industry.
Health and Safety Program
The Import Health and Safety Program investigates goods entering the United States that endanger the health and safety of U.S. consumers. This includes legitimate products that are substandard, misbranded and/or misclassified, as well as illegitimate products like contaminated animal and vegetable food products.
The Textile Program investigates criminal and civil violations of customs laws including false invoicing, false claims of origin, false markings/labeling, misclassification, fraudulent descriptions and smuggling.
Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties Program
The Antidumping and Countervailing Duties Program conducts investigations into illicit schemes to evade the payment of duties on certain imports. These duties are in place to help domestic producers compete against foreign suppliers engaged in or benefiting from dumping and export subsidies.
Trade Agreement Investigations Program
The Trade Agreement Investigations Program investigates the illegal import and export of products in violation of the terms of free trade agreements and legislated trade programs.
Environmental Crimes Program
With a broad environmental scope, the Environmental Crimes Program targets the import and export of endangered and non-native detrimental species; unapproved or non-compliant automobiles, machinery and other equipment; and environmentally hazardous materials and chemicals.
Outreach and Training
The Outreach and Training Unit is tasked with sharing the latest information for combatting counterfeit, substandard and tainted goods with a broad spectrum of industries and government agencies.
For the IPR Center, outreach and training is critical to raise awareness about the dangers of trade-based violations and disseminate information to both public and private industries. Increased information-sharing has helped protect national security, combat financial crimes, maintain U.S. border integrity and ensure public health and safety. OTU provides ongoing engagement opportunities:
- Catalogs real-life victim impact stories that are used to educate the private sector and the public on the health and safety risks and impact of counterfeit goods.
- Organizes outreach programs to industry, domestic and foreign counterparts, as well as public consumers.
- Conducts educational training for thousands of federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement officials.
- Supports partners and stakeholders on webinars and forums which extends the center’s reach internationally.