- - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Obama administration’s former top cop on intellectual property rights is about to become the top lobbyist for one of the leading software industry trade groups.

Victoria Espinel, the federal government’s first intellectual property enforcement coordinator serving under both Presidents Bush and Obama, will take over as president of the Software Alliance, formerly known as the Business Software Alliance, on September 3.

Victoria brings an extraordinary wealth of expertise on key issues at the intersection of trade policy, market access and IP protection,” said BSA Board Chairman Pascal Di Fronzo, senior vice president and general counsel of Autodesk, Inc., which specializes in 3-D design software for construction and manufacturing firms. “She is a proven leader who has earned the respect of policymakers in the United States and around the world.”

Ms. Espinel’s new employers at the Software Alliance include such industry powers as Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Apple and Dell.

Ms. Espinel became known as the Obama administration’s “IP czar” serving in the post since December 2009. Howard Shelanksi, recently named administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has replaced her on a temporary basis.

During her tenure in government, Ms. Espinel helped to implement tougher penalties for counterfeiting and more authority for the Food and Drug Administration to target and destroy counterfeit and adulterated medicines.

Mr. Obama as a candidate for the White House in 2008 talked often of limiting the influence of lobbyists in his administration and addressing the revolving door of officials cashing in on their government service in the private sector. But a number of top Obama White House figures, including his former presidential campaign chairman and his first press secretary, now have joined the ranks of lobbyists.

Ms. Espinel served in the Bush administration, first as a senior counsel in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and then as first assistant trade representative for intellectual property and innovation. Also, she has also taught intellectual property law at George Mason University School of Law.

Previous Software Alliance President and CEO Robert Holleyman stepped down in April 2013.

Ms. Espinel said in a statement that she was “looking forward to working closely with BSA’s member companies to ensure markets around the world provide the enabling environments necessary for technology innovation to continue flourishing. … BSA will continue to be a forceful and effective advocate on issues central to the next phase of the industry’s growth as rapid changes in the digital landscape create new opportunities and policy priorities.”

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