On June 19, 2015, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) made the following speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, insisting that anti-counterfeiting measures not impede lawful trade or unnecessarily increase the costs of doing business for lawful U.S. importers.

(Links to the referenced legislation and the 6/19/15 Congressional Record follow.)

“Mr. Speaker, although I oppose H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, I rise in support of Section 302 of the bill because it wisely allows Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the flexibility to determine when there is a suspicion that goods are counterfeit. The section clarifies that CBP shall consult with Intellectual Property (IP) owners and preserves the flexibility of customs to first consult as appropriate with the importer. However, it does not direct CBP to modify in any particular way its procedures regarding notice to importers prior to determining whether there is a suspicion that their detained goods are possibly counterfeit. This should result in earlier and more accurate decisions by CBP and preserve the ability of lawful importers to protect their confidential information from disclosure.

I am aware of cases where importers of genuine material have suffered significant and real costs because of CBP suspicions that the material was counterfeit. These losses occurred because shipments that were detained or seized were ultimately determined to be genuine and released long after their arrival and expected delivery dates. For example, in one case, a company suffered delays and increased costs for over 17 shipments that were seized or intensively examined by CBP over a three-month period after which all of the goods were ultimately determined to be genuine and were released long after their arrival and expected delivery dates. In another case, a company reported one shipment was seized and another one was detained for more than 30 days before both of these shipments were found to be genuine and were released. As a result of these long delays, the importers in each of these cases suffered significant costs for storage, brokerage, legal fees, product damage, and losses in customer good will.

I thank Chairman RYAN as well as the other Ways & Means Committee members who remain as committed as I am to preventing counterfeit merchandise from crossing our borders. I look forward to working with them to ensure smooth implementation of this new policy.”

A copy of the entire Congressional Record from June 19, 2015 can be accessed here: congressionalrecordjune192015.  Section 302 of H.R. 644 can be found here: section302ofhr644