WH fetes China’s president while country produces counterfeit goods

New York Post

While we were toasting China’s President Hu Jintao at the White House yesterday with steak and Cabernet, his nation’s factories continued to pump out billions of dollars worth of counterfeit goods that were being sold right on the street in lower Manhattan and across the nation on the Internet.

On Canal Street, a vendor with a table full of knock-off designer handbags brazenly peddled a supposed Coach handbag to a Post reporter for $50 — far from the price of the real bag, the US-based firm’s Madison line, which sells for $698 in stores.

US Customs officials have determined that 90 percent of these fake goods, from pharmaceuticals to knock-off handbags, originate in China’s factories — robbing US firms of profits and workers of jobs.

“China is the source of a great deal of trademark counterfeiting, including fake drugs, knock-off handbags, and phony everyday consumer products. These products are often of low quality or dangerous to health and safety,” said Steve Tepp at the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center.

Tepp said China’s counterfeiters have found even greater profits peddling their wares on the Internet, which he estimated generates $135 billion in annual sales.

“The losses from all this criminal activity steals jobs from the US businesses that lose out on legitimate sales,” Tepp said.

Small businesses, like David Pearl’s Uniweld, are fighting an uphill battle against the counterfeiters.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based manufacturer of high-precision pressure gauges used by mechanics and refrigeration repairers said he loses about $1 million a year to the pirates.

“We are getting hammered,” said Pearl, who employs about 250 people in his US factory. “They fully counterfeited everything, down to our box with our name on it. They have no scruples whatsoever.”

But intellectual property rights got short thrift at Hu’s official state visit with President Obama yesterday, with security and currency issues getting top priority.

Indeed, the only real concession Obama wrangled from Hu was a promise that Chinese state agencies would audit their software libraries in a bid to purge their own pirate files.

“As we look to the future, what’s needed, I believe, is a spirit of cooperation that is also friendly competition,” Obama said during a rare press conference in which Hu answered questions.

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