A bill to tighten U.S. anti-counterfeiting laws is heading to President Bush to be signed into law, with the enthusiastic blessing of the nation's automotive aftermarket.
The House of Representatives approved the final version of the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act by voice vote March 7, a little less than a month after the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent.
Originally sponsored by Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich., the bill expands current anti-counterfeiting law by requiring the confiscation and destruction of all machinery and equipment used to make counterfeit goods.
It also makes it illegal to make or sell labels, patches or medallions bearing counterfeit trademarks.
The House passed its original anti-counterfeiting bill last May, and the Senate approved its own version later last year.
The main difference between the two bills was that the Senate version contained an amendment exempting parties who unknowingly sell counterfeit products over the Internet from having their computer equipment confiscated.
That provision remained in the House-Senate conference bill that was the legislation's final version, said a spokesman for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).
While the anti-counterfeiting bill was supported by a broad coalition of U.S. industry, aftermarket associations-particularly SEMA, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and the Tire Industry Association-were among its most vociferous backers.
``This tough new law will help us better protect our intellectual property, protect the safety and quality of aftermarket parts sold in America and put more counterfeiters out of business,'' said Bob McKenna, MEMA president and CEO, in a March 7 press release.
During its push for the legislation, MEMA frequently quoted figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that product counterfeiting costs the auto parts industry alone some $12 billion annually. The FBI estimates for the total cost of counterfeiting to all U.S. industry is from $200 billion to $250 billion.