Law & Order


A comprehensive bill to combat global counterfeiting was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.  The “Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008” has strong bipartisan support and is similar to a SEMA-supported bill that already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Several of the key provisions included in the bill are listed below.

Enhancements to Criminal Intellectual Property Laws:

  • Increases the maximum statutory penalties for counterfeiting offenses that endanger public health and safety; increases maximum penalties for trafficking in counterfeit goods or services from 10 to 20 years imprisonment for knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury; and to life imprisonment for knowingly or recklessly causing or attempting to cause death.

Enhancements to Civil Intellectual Property Laws:

  • Provides for treble damages not only for those who intentionally use a counterfeit mark, but also for those who intentionally supply goods or services necessary to a violation of the Trademark Act. 
  • Doubles the statutory damages in trademark counterfeiting cases to a range of $1,000 to $200,000 for use of a counterfeit mark, and to $2,000,000 for willful use of a counterfeit mark.
  • Streamlines the process for rights-holders to file suit against counterfeiters.
  • Applies copyright and trademark laws not only to imported goods, but also to exported and trans-shipped items. 
  • Permits the seizure of documents and records in civil infringement actions concerning the manufacture, sale or receipt of counterfeited goods.

Coordination and Strategic Planning of Federal Effort Against Counterfeiting and Piracy: 

  • Replaces the current scheme for coordinating federal action against counterfeiting with a stronger, more accountable enforcement coordinator and inter-agency committee reporting to the president and Congress.  

More Resources for the Justice Department to Fight Counterfeiting:

  • Provides resources to federal and local law enforcement agencies through state and local law enforcement grants, funds federal agencies to hire and train additional agents and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute intellectual property crimes and requires the attorney general to send “intellectual property law enforcement coordinators” to criminal hot-spots around the globe. 

Introduction of the Senate legislation and earlier House passage of a similar bill are positive signs of progress. SEMA is working with other industry groups to secure enactment of the legislation into law.

For additional information, contact Brian Duggan at