Clark Silcox, General Counsel of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), today testified before the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing on S 662, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2013. The Senate bill contains several provisions aimed at enhancing enforcement of intellectual property laws at ports of entry, including provisions directing port officials to share images and samples of products with trademark and copyright owners to assist inspectors in determining whether merchandise is genuine or counterfeit.
Silcox told the committee that U.S. Customs, when in doubt about the authenticity of a product, should permit the manufacturer who owns the trademark or copyright to examine the merchandise. It is the most capable entity to respond quickly and accurately to facilitate trade and enforce trade laws when help is needed.
“A deadline for response should be given. Trade facilitation and trade enforcement are supported at the same time,” he said.
Silcox testified that many NEMA members have been victims of electrical product counterfeiting.
“Product safety is a major concern in our industry, and many electrical products are third-party tested to safety standards by independent laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories, CSA Group, Intertek, and other testing and certification organizations,” he said. “Counterfeit electrical products are frequently found to be substandard in terms of safety or product performance characteristics.”
Counterfeit electrical products found in the U.S. include residential circuit breakers, medium-voltage circuit breakers, extension cords, batteries, ground rods, light bulbs, electrical receptacles, ground-fault circuit interrupters, electrical connectors, and electrical adaptors. A number of other counterfeit electrical products have been found outside of the U.S.
“Members of our industry, along with the testing and certification industry whose certification marks have been counterfeited, have worked with U.S. Customs at the ports to help them identify suspect counterfeit products, educating them where genuine products are made, and where counterfeit products come from,” said Silcox. “I have been involved in several of those training programs, and we appreciate the public private partnership that has combined its resources to achieve some good results to protect the public.”
NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, founded in 1926 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Its member companies manufacture a diverse set of products including power transmission and distribution equipment, lighting systems, factory automation and control systems, and medical diagnostic imaging systems. Worldwide annual sales of NEMA-scope products exceed $120 billion.
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