GMA Lauds House Passage of Anti-Counterfeiting Bill

WASHINGTON -- The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) here yesterday commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act (H.R. 32).

As a member of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy, GMA said it has been a strong supporter of H.R. 32, which would increase the penalties for criminals who distribute counterfeit products.

Product counterfeiting is most commonly associated with items such as Rolex watches and designer handbags. However, several supermarket-type products have also been the target of international counterfeit rings. In recent testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, Richard Willard, who is s.v.p. and general counsel of The Gillette Company, noted that recently in China, over the span of one week, Gillette seized more than 1.5 million fake Gillette products that were destined for France, Russia, South America, the Middle East, and a number of English-speaking nations.

"In one province, we seized a substantial amount of fake packaging for several of our products," Willard said. "In another, we recovered 100,000 counterfeit razor blades, 400,000 fake disposable razors, more than one million counterfeit Duracell batteries, and 40,000 fake Oral-B toothbrushes."

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), H.R. 32 would increase the penalties for criminals who distribute counterfeit products by closing existing loopholes in federal law and granting trademark owners similar remedies already provided to copyright and trade secret owners. It is estimated that illegal product counterfeiting results in the loss of an estimated $200 billion to $250 billion in U.S. sales annually.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

"Criminals who traffic in counterfeit goods expose consumers to fake products that can jeopardize their health. H.R. 32 will help limit this illegal activity and maintain consumer confidence in the safety and quality of their products," said Sarah Thorn, GMA senior director of international trade. "GMA urges the Senate to quickly consider this important piece of legislation that benefits both consumers and manufacturers, and helps prosecutors stop this illegal practice."
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