U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today praised President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security for implementing new rules that allow Customs and Border Protection agents that encounter what they believe to be counterfeit goods to share basic information about the goods with trademark holders. These rules will give federal law enforcement agents new tools for identifying and stopping the distribution of counterfeit and, often, dangerous goods.
The new rules closely mirror legislation Senator Coons proposed in 2011. They were published in the Federal Register and distributed to Customs and Border Protection offices on Tuesday.
"Protecting American intellectual property means protecting American jobs," Senator Coons said. "By giving law enforcement the ability to verify with rights holders the inauthenticity of goods that appear to be fakes as they come into this country, we are helping our nation fight back and fight for jobs. The theft of intellectual property has had devastating impacts on American companies. It is an issue I hear about regularly when I talk with manufacturers in Delaware, who operate in a constant state of fear that their trademarks will be violated and their reputations soiled by foreign pirates. Today is an important day for American manufacturers, and I applaud President Obama for his leadership in implementing these rule changes."
Congress authorized the changes in December in the National Defense Authorization Act, but the policy had previously been part of two pieces of legislation introduced by Senator Coons in the fall.
In October, Senator Coons introduced an amendment with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Act, and in December, it was part of the American Growth, Recovery, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Act introduced with Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). In both instances, the legislation would have amended the Trade Secrets Act to make it explicit that it is not a crime for federal officials to share basic information -- like UPC codes and product samples -- with American intellectual property holders to determine if a shipment contains counterfeit or infringing products.