Anti-Counterfeiting Act Signed

The Anti-Counterfeiting Act, which passed this spring as HB 1417, was sponsored by state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami) and state Rep. Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando).

The bill was signed into law today by Governor Charlie Crist in Tallahassee.

“Bogus products pose a real risk to the health and safety of Florida’s consumers, and this illegal activity takes a huge toll on our economy,” said Attorney General McCollum. “Counterfeiters don’t care who gets hurt or how many jobs are lost because of their crimes, but now they’ll have to face serious consequences.”

Examples of counterfeit products reported to the Florida Attorney General’s Office range from fake designer handbags and porcelain floor tiles to counterfeited automobile tires which began to deteriorate after only a few thousand miles. Nationwide, counterfeit prescription
medications and surgical equipment have been linked to deaths and
injuries.

“This crackdown on counterfeiters is critical to the safety of our citizens,” said Sen. Diaz de la Portilla. “The consequences of counterfeiting range from annoying to potentially deadly, and I’m proud
that Florida is now on the leading edge of the fight against these rip-off
artists.”

Counterfeiting and piracy also cost the U.S. economy $200-$250 billion per year and are responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which developed model legislation upon which the Florida law is based.

“Criminals who manufacture and deal in phony products are hurting our state’s economy as well as consumers, and it’s time they were made to pay,” said Rep. Andy Gardiner. “The get-tough approach of this new law means serious prison time for the worst of the worst.”

Key provisions of the bill include a tiered penalty system based on the
quantity or the total retail value of counterfeited goods knowingly
manufactured, possessed or sold. The penalties include:

-A third-degree misdemeanor for 100 or less items, or a retail value
of $2,500 or less;

-A second-degree felony for 100 to less than 1,000 items, or a retail
value of more than $2,500 but less than $20,000; and

-A first-degree felony for 1,000 or more items, or a retail value of
$20,000 or more.

"By ensuring passage of this legislation, Attorney General McCollum, Senator Diaz de la Portilla and Representative Gardiner demonstrated leadership and genuine concern for the safety of Floridians, the state's millions of visitors and the legitimate businesses that operate there," said Caroline Joiner, vice president of the U.S. Chamber's Global Intellectual Property Center. "As the home of Disney, the space industry and a growing biotechnology sector, Florida's economy relies on the innovation that counterfeiters and pirates prey upon.

By taking this aggressive step, Florida's leaders are making it clear that consumer safety, home-grown innovation and jobs will be protected."

“The Florida Chamber supports this law as a solution that protects Florida companies and their products from counterfeiters,” said Mark A. Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “This measure will prevent harm to Florida consumers and the businesses that support our economy.”

The bill also increases the penalties for repeat offenders of counterfeiting and piracy. Additionally, the bill contains a culpable negligence provision which allows increased penalties for those who disregard human life or safety when they manufacture or sell counterfeit goods. The law takes effect October 1, 2008.

A copy of the new law is available online at:
http://myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h1417er.xml&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=1417&Session=2008
.

Pictures of counterfeit goods are available online at:
http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/RWHN-7CFVK8/$file/Counterfeit+Goods.pdf

Additional information, including a list of tips consumers can use to
protect themselves from counterfeit or pirated goods is available online
at: http://www.thetrucosts.org




 
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