Marine manufacturers hailed the final passage of H.R.32, the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act, by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The legislation now goes to the president for his expected signature.
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 the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Strengthening the U.S. criminal code has been a top priority for NMMA. Counterfeit goods account for up to seven percent of global trade, some $500 billion a year, the association says. 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.
"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, in a statement. "Several of our member companies have been hit hard by illegal trafficking in counterfeit goods."
Counterfeit products hurt the manufacturers whose products are copied as knock-offs, and also pose a danger to consumers because the counterfeit products typically are made with inferior craftsmanship, contain inferior materials and serious design flaws, and lack sufficient quality assurance testing, says NMMA. This damages the reputation of the manufacturer whose products were counterfeited, resulting in a further loss of sales and jobs.
NMMA has pursued a multifaceted strategy to combat the counterfeiting problem, including generating bipartisan Congressional support for H.R.32. NMMA testified earlier this year before the House Small Business Committee about the impact of counterfeited U.S. manufactured goods.
"Our fight against global piracy does not end with this important legislation," said NMMA president Thom Dammrich in a statement. "We will continue to take action to protect our products, our reputations, and our consumers from this scourge."
In addition to H.R.32, NMMA supports the Bush administration's Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP) initiative, which aims to eliminate the criminal networks that traffic in counterfeits and fakes. NMMA also has engaged the U.S. Coast Guard to develop a Web site where marine manufacturers may report fake products.