The Senate Judiciary Committee approved by a 10-0 vote legislation to help shut down rogue websites that sell counterfeit goods. Entitled the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act” (PROTECT IP), the SEMA-supported bill would authorize the Justice Department to obtain court orders requiring search engines in the United States to stop displaying links to domain names. The legislation would address the growing problem of online sales of counterfeit and pirated goods, whether specialty auto parts, pharmaceuticals or movies. These products cost thousands of American jobs, expose consumers to health and safety threats and tarnish business reputations.
Companies can already pursue trademark infringement actions against people trafficking in counterfeit goods. However, the PROTECT IP Act would allow companies to ask the federal government to help combat infringement by blocking access to the website, search engine references and consumer payments. The legislation is especially important in combating foreign-operated sites or domain names that are not registered through a United States-based registry. The PROTECT IP Act would nevertheless provide the domain operator full due process protections, including the right to argue its case in court and prove that its site is not engaged in IP theft.
SEMA is working with the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP), U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a number of other groups to support passage of the bill. For more information, visit www.fightonlinetheft.com or contact Stuart Gosswein at firstname.lastname@example.org.