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Anti-counterfeiting bill gets through House

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The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed the "Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act" (H.R. 32) on Tuesday. The measure now proceeds to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If it becomes law, the anti-counterfeiting law would tighten existing criminal sanctions against counterfeiters. It would mandate the destruction of equipment and materials used for making and packaging counterfeit goods (which the current law does not).

In addition, it would clarify the current federal law that prohibits trafficking in counterfeit labels, patches and packaging for use on counterfeit products. It would also allow the U.S. government to insert stronger trademark protections into free trade agreements.

SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) has made passage of this bill a legislative priority. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) and has strong bipartisan support.

"Protecting the intellectual property of our members is a primary and ongoing concern for SEMA," says Chris Kersting, CEO and president of SEMA "The legislation is one more tool for prosecutors and government agencies to use when fighting bogus copies."

SEMA is a member of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP), an industry-wide effort led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and a number of other trade associations and companies.

"The quality products manufactured by SEMA members are the result of years of research, development and good will," says Kersting. "Bogus copies quickly erode that expenditure of time, money and effort.

"The consumer is also ripped off since the fake product may be substandard. We respectfully urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly pass the bill so that it can be enacted into law."

Counterfeit parts cost automotive suppliers $12 billion annually, according to Knollenberg. They also steal jobs and money away from legitimate businesses. "Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime," he said at the recent Aftermarket Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C.

"The U.S. Customs Service and Border Protection estimates that counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses $200 billion annually," added summit organizers. Inferior products also raise health and safety concerns.

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