Pentagon to Debut Intellectual Property Protection Team

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Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord holds a press briefing to update media on acquisition, reform and innovation at the Pentagon on Aug. 26, 2019. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee)
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord holds a press briefing to update media on acquisition, reform and innovation at the Pentagon on Aug. 26, 2019. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee)

The Defense Department is about to debut a new program to secure military technology and safeguard developing weapons against malign actors such as China.

By October, the Pentagon will stand up an "intellectual property [IP] cadre" to create policy to better address protections for the military's data security, as well as how the DoD deals with the defense industry on these issues going forward, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said Monday.

"Acquisition and sustainment is now issuing new functional policies on mission engineering and intellectual property," Lord said during a briefing at the Pentagon.

The new cadre "will develop DoD policy within the whole of government effort to address concerns on data rights," she said.

Related: $10,000 Toilet Seats and Data Rights: The Air Force's New Dilemma

Lord cited recent comments by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump on intellectual property theft, which has adverse effects on national security, "American commerce and the defense industry."

"We need to go on the offense to protect our technology versus merely acting defensively," she said.

The fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act ordered the Pentagon to create a "cadre" of intellectual property experts in the DoD and private industry who can offer guidance on how to apply laws and regulations to acquisition strategy.

According to Holland & Knight, a law firm that specializes in data rights, the cadre's duties "include developing strategies to acquire and support IP and interacting directly with contractors to implement the strategies, drafting solicitations or needs statements, and assisting with the valuation of IP and negotiation of IP prices."

In a recent interview with Fox News, Defense Secretary Mark Esper agreed with the Trump administration that China has been taking advantage of U.S intellectual property -- trademarked, copyrighted or patented ideas or works -- for years.

China has engaged in the "greatest theft of intellectual property in human history," he said in the interview last week.

"They've studied us, and they've learned about how we employ weapons," Esper said. "They've learned about our doctrine. And so, that is something that we watch very carefully."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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