The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is more than concerned about rogue Web sites that sell counterfeit goods. It is doing something about it.
SEMA is working with the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP), the United States Chamber of Commerce, labor organizations, large employers and a number of small businesses to support legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate to help shut down the sites.
The legislation is needed to address the growing problem of online sales of counterfeit and pirated goods, whether specialty auto parts, pharmaceuticals or movies. SEMA says these products cost thousands of American jobs, expose consumers to health and safety threats, and tarnish business reputations.
Entitled the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act," the bill would authorize the Justice Department to obtain court orders requiring search engines in the United States to stop displaying links to domain names.
"Theft is theft, whether a product is stolen from the store shelf or sold as counterfeit goods over the Internet," says Chris Kersting, SEMA CEO and president. "The PROTECT IP bill will provide law enforcement with more tools to combat crime involvling intellectual property.
"Several years ago, the business community worked with Congress to update U.S. trademark law by allowing counterfeit goods to be destroyed along with the equpment used to produce the fake goods (see "SEMA hails intellectual property protection law"). SEMA now welcomes the opportunity to strengthen U.S. copyright law by shielding American consumers from Web sites that peddle pirated goods.”
Companies already can pursue trademark infringement actions against people trafficking in counterfeit goods. However, the PROTECT IP Act would allow companies to ask the federal government to help combat infringement by blocking access to the Web site, search engine references and consumer payments.
The legislation is especially important in combating foreign-operated sites or domain names that are not registered through a U.S. based registry. (The PROTECT IP Act would provide the domain operator full due process protections, including the right to argue its case in court and prove that its site is not engaged in IP theft.)
For more information on the PROTECT IP Act and the campaign against online theft, visit www.fightonlinetheft.com.