December 16, 2011

Final Defense Bill Contains Whitehouse Measure to Combat Counterfeit Military Products

Washington, DC – Following negotiations with the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate has voted 86-13 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which includes a bipartisan measure from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to curb trafficking in counterfeit military products. Introduced as the Combating Military Counterfeits Act, the provision would bolster efforts to protect troops and the United States military supply chain from dangerous counterfeit products.

“With so many of our troops serving in harm’s way overseas, it is vital that we provide them with the best equipment possible to defend themselves and our nation,” said Whitehouse. “I’m glad my legislation to crack down on counterfeit military products was included in the final Defense Authorization measure, and I look forward to the President signing it into law.”

A January 2010 study by the Commerce Department quoted a Defense Department official estimating that counterfeit aircraft parts were “leading to a 5 to 15 percent annual decrease in weapons systems reliability.” Similarly, the Government Accountability Office has reported that the Defense Department discovered in testing that it had procured body armor that was misrepresented as being “Kevlar,” and that a supplier sold the Pentagon a personal computer circuit that it falsely claimed was a $7,000 circuit that met the specifications of a missile guidance system.

Under the current counterfeit trafficking statute, sentences imposed on traffickers in military counterfeits do not reflect the serious dangers that these products pose to our troops. The Whitehouse provision addresses this deficiency by creating a new enhanced offense that specifically targets trafficking in military counterfeits and that increases penalties for criminals who know that the counterfeit product they sell is intended for use by the military or is identified as meeting military standards.

The original Whitehouse measure, S.1228, was cosponsored by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Hatch (R-UT), McCain (R-AZ), Kyl (R-AZ), Graham (R-SC), Klobuchar (D-MN), Coons (D-DE), and Blumenthal (D-CT), and is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Semiconductor Industry Association, DuPont, the International Trademark Association, the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, as well as A2B Tracking and ON Semiconductor in Rhode Island.

President Obama is expected to sign the Defense Authorization bill into law soon.

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