Automotive aftermarket associations hailed the U.S. House of Representatives for its voice-vote passage of a bill designed to strengthen penalties against counterfeiters of auto parts and other manufactured products.
Sponsored by Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich., the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act came up for a vote on the House floor May 23. Mr. Knollenberg originally introduced the bill into the previous Congress, but it failed to get even a hearing then.
Current anti-counterfeiting law requires convicted counterfeiters to forfeit all profits they make from the sale of fake or unlicensed goods. The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act would take the law one step further-by also requiring the forfeit and destruction of all machinery and equipment used to make counterfeit products.
The bill also would make it illegal to sell unauthorized labels, patches or medallions bearing a registered trademark.
While counterfeiting is rampant worldwide in just about every kind of manufactured product, it represents a special danger when it involves tires and auto parts, according to the U.S. automotive aftermarket.
The aftermarket cites Federal Bureau of Investigation figures that product counterfeiting in auto parts costs the industry about $12 billion annually, equivalent to 200,000 industry jobs. The damage auto parts counterfeiting causes in auto accidents, litigation and lost corporate reputation is incalculable, according to various companies and associations.
``First and foremost, product counterfeiting undermines U.S. and foreign safety standards, putting consumers at risk,'' said Paul Foley, president of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association within the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, in a press release.
``Fake, poor-quality brakes, brake fluid, tires, headlights and other safety-related parts and components have been found for sale,'' it added.
Prospects for the anti-counterfeiting bill in the Senate are unclear at this point, though Stephanie Salmon, director of government affairs for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, said members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have expressed great interest in the legislation. She speculated that hearings would be scheduled during the summer.