Texas Representative Lamar Smith was forced to put proposals for the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to bed earlier this year, but the congressman has stayed true to his intentions of protecting American intellectual assets abroad with newly drafted legislation.
Lamar's Intellectual Property Attache Act (IPAA) would transfer the IP attache program currently managed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over to the Department of Commerce. As a result, American copyright officers could then be taken out of their traditional residence in USPTO headquarters and stationed at embassies and offices around the world.
According to MSNBC, supporters of the bill insist that establishing ground-level intelligence is a crucial capacity for solving complex international intellectual property disputes. However, critics have suggested that rights holders should be the ones handling the responsibility - and expense - of extended enforcement efforts. Additionally, a number of companies already have internal positions and even entire departments established for such purposes.
There are also concerns regarding a conflict of interest. According to Digital Trends, some have suggested that the IP attaches may have difficulty earnestly supporting business priorities that do not align with the expressed goals of their government colleagues.