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​Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan delivers a Sept. 16 keynote address at AFA's 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md. Staff photo by Mike Tsukamoto.

The Air Force is establishing a dedicated group to battle intellectual property theft as part of a Pentagon- and government-wide push to protect federal assets.

“As we bring on new capabilities quickly, it’s important that we protect the intellectual property associated with these assets from countries that would like to steal our ideas,” Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan said in a Sept. 16 keynote address at AFA’s 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference.

Last year, Donovan said, the service created a cross-functional team that brought together airmen with acquisition, legal, logistics, and IP backgrounds to recommend ways to protect the Air Force’s ideas.

“Ultimately, they recommended we create what they call a ‘smart IP cadre’ that will partner with industry and serve as the Air Force’s lead agency in a whole-of-government approach to theft of our hard-won intellectual property,” he continued.

In August, Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord noted that the Pentagon plans to stand up its own IP cadre by October. The group will be the Defense Department’s voice in the government-wide effort to address data rights issues, particularly concerning theft by China.

DOD’s acquisition and sustainment office “is now issuing new functional policies on mission engineering and intellectual property, and assisting with the reissuance of several other functional policies,” Lord said. “We need to go on the offense to protect our technology versus merely acting defensively.”