The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP) are stepping up efforts to get the U.S. government to more aggressively combat the growing global problem of counterfeiting and piracy.

At a news conference today on Capitol Hill, Bruce Josten, executive vp for the Chamber, said counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion a year, result in the loss of 750,000 jobs, and threaten public health and safety. Globally, counterfeit goods represent almost 5% of worldwide trade, he added.

Rick Cotton, chairman of the CACP – a collection of more than 300 businesses and associations aligned to fight global counterfeiting and piracy – said that the federal government needs to drastically ramp up its effort to protect American consumers and companies increasingly endangered by counterfeiting. That includes truck fleet owners whose vehicles can be adversely affected by counterfeit brake pads or other parts.

The Chamber and CACP propose, among other things, that the federal government should:

  • Toughen legal penalties for counterfeiters who cause bodily injury
  • Increase resources for Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to fight these crimes
  • Improve coordination among federal agencies. This would include the appointment of an intellectual property enforcement officer within the White House with broad responsibility to oversee the coordination of relevant agencies, develop and implement a joint strategic enforcement plan, and to report to Congress on specific performance indicators.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, said lawmakers are taking these anti-counterfeiting proposals seriously.

”Intellectual property (IP) especially is the engine of America's economy. It accounts for over half of all U.S. exports, represents 40% of our economic growth and employs 18 million Americans,” Smith said in a prepared statement. “But the benefits of IP are short-lived if we do not enforce piracy laws. My judiciary colleagues and I plan to introduce an IP enforcement bill that will include many of the recommendations in the coalition’s proposal. It is important that we work together to promote innovation, protect American jobs, and defend U.S. economic interests.”

“Counterfeiting and piracy threaten our economic security by depriving American workers of jobs, stealing revenue from our businesses and governments, and undermining our nation’s competitive advantage - innovation and creativity,” added the Chamber’s Josten. “Dangerous and defective counterfeit products also harm the health and safety of consumers. To respond to this challenge, we must take bold action to improve our nation’s intellectual property laws and provide sufficient resources to sustain effective enforcement at home and abroad.”