WASHINGTON, DCñ Today, Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) along with Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), and Rep. Bill Keating(D-MA) introduced H.R. 22 the bipartisan Foreign Counterfeit Merchandise Prevention Act. The legislation allows Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to exchange important identifying information with intellectual property rights holders in order to identify and catch counterfeit merchandise before it enters the U.S. market.
Each day thousands of counterfeit products come through our nationís borders and ports of entry. Given the sheer volume of fraudulent and potentially harmful products and the alarming sophistication of counterfeiters and pirates, it is often difficult to tell the real from the fake. When counterfeit goods successfully enter the U.S., American workers who design and make the legitimate goods lose.
ìRight now, CBP officers are on the front lines of trade enforcement, but they are not allowed to share information with the people most knowledgeable about the authenticity of their productsóthe right holders, ìsaid Rep. Poe. ìInstead, they are faced with the nearly impossible task of inspecting all of the counterfeit and potentially dangerous goods to determine what is genuine and what is counterfeit. We are setting them up for failure. This broken system is hurting American designers and manufacturers.î
ìCBP should have the authority to share information on suspected counterfeit physical products,î said Rep. Lofgren. ìWithout that authority, consumers and companies can receive physical goods they never intended to purchase, which can have harmful results when the products affect public safety and health. This bill makes it clear that the new CBP authority is directed towards physical goods where counterfeits can harm consumers.î
For many years, CBP routinely sought the assistance of trademark and copyright owners to authenticate suspected counterfeit or pirated products detained at the border. Unfortunately, after a questionable legal interpretation of the Trade Secrets Act, CBP directed field staff in 2008 to redact all identifying markings and codes before sending a digital image to the right holder to authenticate the product.
The Foreign Counterfeit Merchandise Prevention Act provides a permanent remedy to this serious enforcement deficiency by clarifying that it is not a violation of the Trade Secrets Act for CBP officers to provide information and sample