July 2, 2008

U.S. Chamber Joins Florida State Leaders in Counterfeiting Fight

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauded Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who today signed a new law to protect consumers and legitimate businesses against counterfeiting and piracy in the Sunshine State. The law is the product of a collaborative effort between Florida state leaders, law enforcement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) and the International Trademark Association (INTA).

The legislation was championed by Attorney General Bill McCollum, who named it one of his priority bills for 2008. Earlier this year, Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed “The Anti-Counterfeiting Act of 2008,” which was sponsored by Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami) and Representative Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando), respectively. The law is based upon the Chamber’s model state legislation and includes increased penalties for repeat offenders, a tiered penalty system based on the value of goods manufactured, possessed or sold, and increased penalties for criminals that traffic in goods that could cause bodily injury or death.
“By ensuring passage of this legislation, Attorney General McCollum, Senator Diaz de la Portilla and Representative Gardiner demonstrated leadership and genuine concern for the safety of Floridians, the state’s millions of visitors and the legitimate businesses that operate there,” said Caroline Joiner, vice president of the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center. “As the home of Disney, the space industry and a growing biotechnology sector, Florida’s economy relies on the innovation that counterfeiters and pirates prey upon. By taking this aggressive step, Florida’s leaders are making it clear that consumer safety, home-grown innovation and jobs will be protected.”

In applauding the bill’s signing, Attorney General McCollum said, “Bogus products pose a real risk to the health and safety of Florida’s consumers, and this illegal activity takes a huge toll on our economy. Counterfeiters don’t care who gets hurt or how many jobs are lost because of their crimes, but now they’ll have to face serious consequences.”

Counterfeiting and piracy are a global epidemic which cost the U.S. economy $250 billion annually and have led to the loss of more than 750,000 jobs. Affecting every American community, counterfeiting and piracy endanger public health and safety, while costing federal, state and local governments much-needed tax revenue for vital community projects. Among the most commonly counterfeited and pirated products are fake prescription drugs, defective medical devices, faulty electrical appliances, batteries, machine tools, pirated software and consumer products, such as apparel and personal hygiene products.

“Counterfeiting and piracy threaten consumers’ health and safety, while shaking our confidence in the products we rely on and the brands we trust,” added Joiner. “This legislation will protect Floridians from dangerously defective counterfeit and pirated products, while serving as an example to other states around the nation about how they can help stem these crimes.”

The Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center is working around the world to champion IP as a vital engine of global development, growth, and human progress.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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