Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and Japan Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshihiro Nikai today announced their intent to enhance bilateral cooperation on intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement. Cooperative efforts are being planned in areas such as working together toward streamlining of patent procedures and harmonization of patent laws, protecting IPR at trade fairs, supporting the IPR protection efforts of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and strengthening technical assistance. IPR infringements cost U.S. businesses approximately $250 billion annually. Counterfeiting and pirated goods have a similar impact on the livelihoods of Japanese companies and their labor forces. Secretary Gutierrez and Minister Nikai also confirmed their intention to strengthen cooperation in other areas, including export controls, clean development and climate, standards and conformity assessment, and information technology security.