The U.S. must strengthen its anti-counterfeiting laws to ensure both the survival of its manufacturers and the safety of its citizens, according to witnesses at a House subcommittee hearing.
``Keeping counterfeit products out of the American market is of first and foremost concern to our company,'' said Scott Emmer, brand protection manager for Federal-Mogul Corp., at the June 15 hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. Mr. Emmer also represented the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) at the hearing.
``We believe it will not be enough just to play defense, protecting the U.S. market from counterfeiters,'' Mr. Emmer told the subcommittee. ``We believe the U.S. government, with the support of industry, must also go on the offensive and track the counterfeit products back to their source in China.
``Introduction of a new product or technology to China, to build our business in that market, creates a huge risk that the product or technology will be copied and counterfeited on a massive scale.''
Mr. Emmer and other witnesses brought along examples of both genuine and counterfeit auto parts and other products, to show the difficulty in telling them apart. They also showed a video that told of the dangers U.S. consumers face from fake auto parts, aircraft parts and other products. A school bus fitted with counterfeit brake pads crashed, killing seven children, the video stated.
Mr. Emmer and the others spoke on behalf of the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act, which passed the House May 23 and is waiting for action in the Senate. The bill would strengthen current anti-counterfeiting law, requiring convicted product counterfeiters to surrender not only the profits they made from fake goods, but also the machinery and equipment they used to fabricate them.
Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., indicated his solid support for the bill, as did other subcommittee members. Rep. Stearns quoted figures from the World Customs Organization and Interpol, showing that product counterfeiting translates into a U.S. loss of more than 750,000 jobs-200,000 of them auto-related.