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SGMA Supports Strong Stance by Obama Administration on Counterfeiting

Date: 11/29/11

SILVER SPRING, MD – November 29, 2011 -- As the nation’s retailers stock their shelves for the millions of holiday shoppers, the Federal Government is doing what it can to help the process.  It is cracking down on sales of counterfeit goods.  Yesterday, the U.S. Justice Department secured court orders to seize 150 website domain names that bought, sold, and distributed counterfeit goods.  On last year’s “Cyber Monday,” 82 domain names were seized. 

“Intellectual property crimes harm businesses and consumers, alike, threatening economic opportunity and financial stability, and today we have sent a clear message that the department will remain ever vigilant in protecting the public’s economic welfare and public safety through robust intellectual property enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.

The Obama Administration stated that it has been working on this matter -- “Operation In Our Sites” -- for roughly 90 days. Law enforcement agents have purchased counterfeit products — such as sports jerseys, shoes and handbags — and have been working with copyright owners. Most of the illegal sites were operated from foreign countries, according to a Justice Department spokesman.

Holder and other administration officials are also planning to announce a new public information initiative -- Intellectual Property Theft Campaign -- against online piracy today (Tuesday, November 29).  SGMA is actively promoting the rogue website legislation.  SGMA’s Vice President of Government Relations Bill Sells will be attending the event at the White House.

There is legislation in both the U.S. Senate (S 968) and in the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 3261) which would enable law enforcement officials and holders of copyrights to take ownership of the situation where websites are operating illegally.

Besides the sporting goods industry, the movie and music industries are also negatively affected by sales of counterfeit merchandise.  And, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the federal legislation, too. But, some high tech companies and public policy groups feel the legislation is too strict.  The bill in the U.S. Senate bill has passed through its Judiciary Committee, but there’s opposition from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).  The bill in the House has generated bipartisan support from its Judiciary Committee, but that committee includes legislators from both parties who remain undecided.
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the global business trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA leads the sports and fitness industries while enhancing industry vitality and fostering sports, fitness, and active lifestyle participation.  More information about SGMA can be found at www.sgma.com.

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