The House passed by a voice vote Tuesday its version of a bill that Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has been pushing to give law enforcement better tools to fight counterfeiting of products.
However, it was passed in a slightly different form than a companion bill by Hatch that the Senate passed in December - which either requires the Senate to accept the House changes or to have both chambers appoint conferees to work out differences.Hatch said the illegal counterfeiting of goods ranging from airline parts to drugs, baby formula, food, apparel and computer software has become a multibillion-dollar industry that devastates legitimate businesses.
"Over $200 billion is estimated to be lost yearly to the U.S. economy as a result of counterfeiting," he said. "The result, according to the U.S. Customs Service, is an annual loss of 750,000 American jobs."
Hatch's bill would increase penalties and make such counterfeiting an offense of the Racketeer Influenced, Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which could allow seizure of all assets.
It also enhances authority to seize counterfeit goods and tools used to make them, and increases the civil fines that can be collected for counterfeiting.