Anti-Counterfeit Bill Passes State Assembly

A California bill that could give stiffer penalties to counterfeiters selling knockoff items passed the state Assembly on a 75–0 vote on Jan. 28.

The bill, AB 1394, now goes to the Senate Rules Committee and the Policy Committee before it is voted on by the state Senate, said Matt Hale, a legislative aide to Paul Krekorian (D–Burbank), the assembly member who introduced the bill last year.

The bill is meant to enhance the current state anti-counterfeiting law and align it with the federal anti-counterfeiting law.

For example, the proposed state law would make it unlawful to intentionally transport, offer for sale or distribute any counterfeit registered trademark or intellectual property. The current law is silent on the specific issue of transportation. It would also require restitution to be paid to the victim of a trademark offense. It would also close the loophole about counterfeit products trafficked as separate components. Federal law says they are illegal even when unassembled. The current state law does not.

AB 1394 would increase the monetary penalty for the trafficking or counterfeiting of 1,000 items or more. Currently penalties are capped at $250,000. The new bill allows penalties to be as high as three times the total retail value of the articles. It does not increase prison penalties.

The bill is backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the California Chamber of Commerce , which notes that counterfeiting drains the state economy of $34 billion a year in revenues. —Deborah Belgum