- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 28, 2007

New enforcement tools and cooperation with industry are among the reasons the government was able to report an 83 percent increase in seizures of counterfeit goods during fiscal 2006, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham.

Last year, more than 80 percent of goods seized by value were from China. The protection of intellectual property is a major issue in U.S.-Chinese economic relations.

The Homeland Security Department earlier this month said Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted more than 14,000 seizures of counterfeit goods worth more than $155 million.

Footwear accounted for 41 percent of the value of the confiscated goods. Also seized were cigarette papers, football merchandise, digital video discs and pharmaceuticals.

Therese Randazzo, the director of risk management in CBP’s Office of Strategic Trade, said soap, shampoo and other everyday products are increasingly being counterfeited.

Mr. Basham said his agency has acquired better targeting and screening tools in recent years to detect counterfeit goods.

“We just know a lot more about the supply chain,” he said Friday.

He said international counterterrorism procedures to prevent shipment of weapons into the United States also can be used to stop counterfeit goods, “because really you’re looking at the same type of information.”

Business supports the efforts.

Caroline M. Joiner, executive director of the anti-counterfeiting and piracy initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said CBP is doing a “great job” with its new tools using intellectual property criteria, but that agents need more resources.

Mr. Basham said counterfeit products harm American producers economically and represent “a safety issue for us and our children.”

“People talk about jobs and protecting jobs in this country and every time somebody goes out and buys one of these knockoff products, that takes jobs away from Americans,” he said.

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