Congress passes anti-counterfeiting bill

WASHINGTON – The National Marine Manufacturers Association is hailing the passage of the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act, H.R.32, March 8 by the House of Representatives, NMMA said in a release earlier this week.

The bill closes an important loophole in current U.S. law and will allow authorities to seize counterfeit goods and the equipment used to make them, effectively putting counterfeiters out of business, NMMA reported.

H.R. 32 has now been passed by Congress and awaits the President’s signature, which is expected, according to NMMA.

Counterfeit goods, or fakes, account for up to seven percent of global trade, some $500 billion a year. The past few years have seen a surge in counterfeit products produced in China, the number one source for counterfeit goods intercepted at U.S. borders. Strengthening the U.S. criminal code has been a top priority for NMMA.

“This is a hard fought win for manufacturers that will empower U.S. Trade officials to insist that international trading partners adopt their own forfeiture and destruction provisions before they sign a trade deal with the U.S.,” said Monita Fontaine, vice president of NMMA Government Relations, a key advocate of the legislation. “Several of our member companies have been hit hard by illegal trafficking in counterfeit goods, and we’re proud to step up the fight against global piracy and continue to push for a level playing field in the international markets.”

Counterfeit products are not only detrimental to manufacturers whose products are copied as knock-offs, but they pose a danger to consumers because the counterfeit products typically are made with inferior craftsmanship, contain inferior materials and serious design flaws, and lack the sufficient quality assurance testing found in the marine manufacturing industry.

When counterfeit products fail to perform, it damages the reputation of the manufacturer whose products were counterfeited, resulting in a further loss of sales and jobs.

NMMA said it has pursued a multi-faceted strategy to combat the increasingly pervasive problem of counterfeiting, including generating bipartisan Congressional support for the passage of H.R. 32, a key component of that fight.

Most notably, NMMA testified earlier this year before the House Small Business Committee about the impact of counterfeited U.S. manufactured goods, and urged the Congress not to stand idle while the Chinese government continues to turn a blind eye to counterfeiting on a massive scale.

“The problems that manufacturers now face from counterfeited goods have become a common thread in American industry today regardless of the size of the company,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “That is why our fight against global piracy does not end with this important legislation — we will continue to take action to protect our products, our reputations and our consumers from this scourge.”

In addition to H.R. 32, the NMMA said it has supported the Bush administration’s efforts to assist American manufacturers through its Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy; the most comprehensive initiative ever advanced to eliminate the criminal networks that traffic in counterfeits and fakes. NMMA has also engaged the U.S. Coast Guard to develop a Web site where marine manufacturers may report fake products.

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