INTA, in collaboration with the Congressional Trademark Caucus (CTC) and the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), held its third annual holiday shopping briefing for congressional staff which focused on how counterfeit goods can directly harm the public at large. The briefing, entitled “What You Need to Know about Counterfeit Products during the Holiday Shopping Season” and which was held in the U.S. House of Representatives Rayburn House Office Building, provided a key opportunity for INTA to work with the CTC leadership on outreach to Capitol Hill about this growing problem that directly impacts their constituents.
Kicking off the briefing, Deborah Cohn, INTA’s Senior Director of Government Relations based in Washington, D.C., highlighted the importance of educating consumers about the dangers that counterfeit products across all industry sectors can pose to their health and safety. Additionally, Ms. Cohn shared information about INTA’s anticounterfeiting exhibit in the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. The interactive exhibit includes useful tips for consumers on how to avoid purchasing counterfeit goods. Ms. Cohn noted that the museum is free and open to the public and encouraged attendees to visit the museum and see the exhibit for themselves.
The briefing featured remarks from White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) Vishal Amin, as well as comments from a panel of U.S. federal government officials and representatives from the business and nonprofit communities. With the IPEC office celebrating the 10th anniversary of its formation, Mr. Amin focused on the office’s Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property (IP) Enforcement, which defines a roadmap for government coordination and stakeholder outreach to address the issues and challenges presented by counterfeiting. When the office was developing the plan, INTA had responded to a request for comments, in which it noted the Association’s goals and priorities on IP enforcement.
This year’s briefing highlighted the coordination and collaboration among several key government agencies focused on IP enforcement, including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Department of Justice. INTA directly and regularly engages with these agencies, and the briefing helped illustrate how their work is assisting brand owners and consumers by helping to curtail counterfeit goods in the marketplace.
In addition to the experts from the U.S. government, the panel was moderated by Michael Castellano, Vice President of Government Relations at The Walt Disney Company (USA), an INTA corporate member, and included Ann Harkins, the President and CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council, a nonprofit organization. The discussion focused on IP enforcement, consumer education, and awareness outreach, including topics such as interdiction of counterfeits at U.S. ports of entry; addressing challenges presented by shipping processes; and strategies for outreach to consumers, including young consumers, about the health and safety dangers presented by counterfeit goods.
The panel highlighted the need for consumers to be smart shoppers on all fronts. Specifically, consumers should be encouraged to research and examine online purchasing processes before determining where to purchase goods in order to ensure that they are indeed buying real products from sources they know and trust.
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