Bush signs anti-counterfeiting legislation

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush signed H.R. 32, the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act into law Thursday, NMMA said in a statement Friday.

As part of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy, the NMMA made the anti-counterfeiting legislation’s passage a top legislative priority after several member companies were hit hard by counterfeit products, which highlighted the need to stop the growing counterfeiting and piracy tide.

“Counterfeiting costs our country hundreds of billion dollars a year,” Bush said in remarks before the White House bill signing ceremony. “It has got a lot of harmful effects in our economy. Counterfeiting hurts businesses. They lose the right to profit from their innovation. Counterfeiting hurts workers, because counterfeiting undercuts honest competition, rewards illegal competitors. Counterfeiting hurts consumers, as fake products expose our people to serious health and safety risks.”

The bill closes a 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, according to NMMA. Strengthening the U.S. criminal code has been a top priority for the association. Counterfeit goods account for up to 7 percent of global trade, some $500 billion a year. The past few years have seen a surge in counterfeit products produced in China, the main origin of counterfeit goods intercepted at U.S. borders, NMMA reported.

“The size of the threat from counterfeiting to manufacturers is enormous and shouldn’t be ignored,” said Monita Fontaine, NMMA vice president of government relations. “The signing of this legislation into law is an important step to protect our consumers and manufacturers from that threat. Combating the ill affects of counterfeiting is a top priority for NMMA, and we will now work to ensure that there is proper coordination to enforce this new law and to seek these same levels of protections in future trade agreements.”

Counterfeit products can 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, where product quality is a top priority because of the rigorous and challenging nature of the marine environment, stated NMMA. When fake products fail to perform, it damages the reputation of the manufacturer, whose products were counterfeited, resulting in a further loss of sales and jobs.

“Thanks for your hard work on this important piece of legislation,” Bush told bill supporters and consumer protection groups at the bill signing ceremony.

The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act’s passage was one part of a multi-faceted strategy NMMA has undertaken to combat illegal counterfeiting. NMMA has also supported the Bush administration’s efforts to assist American manufacturers through its Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy, an initiative to eliminate the criminal networks that traffic in counterfeits, and engaged the U.S. Coast Guard to develop a web site where marine manufacturers may report fake products.

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