WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce urged lawmakers to close loopholes which allow counterfeiters to avoid prosecution and profit from illegal activities.
"Lawmakers must ensure that federal laws keep pace with the growing sophistication of counterfeiting activities in this country," said Mike Zaneis, Chamber director of congressional and public affairs. "These are real criminal activities with significant personal, economic and social consequences. It's a big business and it's getting bigger."
Counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses as much as $250 billion every year and results in the loss of 750,000 jobs, according to FBI estimates. Internationally, the World Customs Organization and Interpol estimate that the annual global trade in illegitimate goods has increased from $5.5 billion in 1982 to roughly $600 billion today and it continues to grow.
The U.S. Congress is considering legislation (H.R. 32) which would strengthen anti-counterfeiting laws by prohibiting the trafficking in counterfeit labels, patches, stickers, hangtags, or medallions that are unattached to goods. In addition, the bill would make mandatory the forfeiture and destruction of counterfeit goods, as well as the assets used to produce, package, and distribute counterfeit goods, and requires the forfeiture of property and assets derived from counterfeiting.
"The rising occurrence of dangerous counterfeit products – such as batteries, brake pads and airplane components – is a frightening trend," said Zaneis. "Numerous deaths and injuries have already been attributed to counterfeit products."
Passage of anti-counterfeiting legislation would also combat counterfeiting abroad. International concerns are rising, as there is strong evidence suggestion that organized criminal groups and terrorist organizations are involved in counterfeiting schemes.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.
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