NEMA supports bill to penalize counterfeit manufacturing product labels, packaging

Rosslyn, VA—The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) reports that it's supporting legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) that would amend U.S. criminal code provisions imposing sanctions on traffickers of counterfeit products, labels, and packaging.


Rosslyn, VA— The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) reports that it's supporting legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) that would amend U.S. criminal code provisions imposing sanctions on traffickers of counterfeit products, labels, and packaging. The legislation, 'The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act,' (HR 32) was introduced on Jan. 4, 2005, with bipartisan support from 21 original co-sponsors. HR 32 would amend the law prohibiting trafficking in products bearing counterfeit trademarks in two important ways.

First, it would clarify that criminal sanctions apply, not only to people who traffic in goods bearing counterfeit marks, but also to people who traffic in counterfeit trademarks and certification marks. This amendment would overrule a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in 2000, U.S. v. Giles, which overturned the conviction of a person operating a business known as Fabulous Fakes, which supplied patches bearing counterfeit marks, so that consumers could affix them to generic products.

Second, it would make forfeiture and destruction of the counterfeit product mandatory, rather than discretionary, for all who are convicted, or plead guilty or no contest, to violating the law, and the court would have discretion to order the forfeiture of the proceeds made from the sale of the counterfeit product, as well as the tools used to make counterfeit products and marks. This amendment would make the law applicable to counterfeit trademarks equal to existing law relating to counterfeit copyrighted products.

'NEMA is pleased that Congressman Knollenberg has again introduced this legislation, which we hope will be passed by both the House and the Senate this year,' says Malcolm O'Hagan, NEMA's president. O'Hagan adds that NEMA was particularly concerned about the impact of the Court of Appeals decision that held the anti-counterfeiting law did not apply to those who sold fake trademarks, even though they knew full well the use for the fake marks.

'In the case of electrical products, we know that unbranded products, such as Christmas tree lights, have been imported into the U.S., where the importer has arranged to purchase counterfeit UL marks to affix them to the lights prior to distribution,' says O'Hagen. 'Both UL and the Consumer Product Safety Commission found these counterfeit products to be unsafe.'

NEMA officials were also pleased that the bill would give parity in the mandatory forfeiture remedy between those who traffic in counterfeit trademarks and those who engage in copyright piracy. Currently, only the copyright law makes forfeiture of counterfeit product mandatory.

'Not only is this amendment important for domestic law, but it enables the U.S to encourage our trading partners to adopt this kind of remedy during free trade agreement negotiations,' adds O'Hagen.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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