Four top officials of the Bush administration announced Oct. 4 an initiative to crack down on the global theft of U.S. intellectual property.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Four top officials of the Bush administration announced Oct. 4 an initiative to crack down on the global theft of U.S. intellectual property.

At a press conference, Department of Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans was joined by U. S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, attorney general John Ashcroft and Homeland Security under secretary Asa Hutchinson in announcing the effort, called "Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy" (STOP).

The STOP initiative between the departments was created to go after both home-grown pirates and companies in "pirate king" countries like China that are producing everything from pirate CDs to fake Zippo lighters, and steal billions of dollars from the U.S. economy.

"Today's STOP initiative allows us to leverage those efforts and new innovative solutions to better protect America's intellectual property," said Evans. "As much as seven percent of the goods in the global marketplace are phony."

In the coordinated STOP effort:

DOJ will ramp up a large-scale effort to break up criminal organizations that U.S. officials say are involved in the widespread sale of pirated product. It will also work to change rules to allow U.S. District Courts authority to slap injunctions against the import of known bogus products into ports nationwide beyond local jurisdictions.

The administration will push Congress to beef up intellectual-property laws that would provide stiffer criminal penalties for piracy.

The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection plans to increase its efforts -- with new post 9-11 cargo tracking rules in place -- to sniff out the traffic in bogus products.

The administration will publish for the first time a high-profile annual list of foreign companies known to be producing or trafficking in pirated goods, larger in scope that the less-publicized "Special 301" list drawn up by USTR.

The U.S. Patent Office will open a hot line, 1-866-999-HALT, to help businesses register their patents and trademarks around the world and to instruct them on lodging complaints.

The STOP initiative comes less than a month before the Presidential election as the current administration responds to critics in the private sector who complain that IP protection has not been a top priority.