Va. counterfeiting measure kicks in Tuesday

McDonnell

RICHMOND (Legal Newsline) - New anti-counterfeiting laws backed by state Attorney General Bob McDonnell will take effect in Virginia Tuesday. McDonnell and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum both helped push through legislation that was based on a counterfeiting and piracy model designed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the owner of Legal Newsline, this year. "These new laws protect Virginia consumers from potentially harmful counterfeit products, while promoting legitimate business in Virginia," McDonnell said. "Counterfeit products pose a danger to our Commonwealth. Virginia continues to lead the way in protecting our citizens." Counterfeited products do not just cheat businesses but also can harm consumers, McDonnell and McCollum agree. McDonnell said brake pads, diabetes test strips, airline mechanical parts, smoke alarms, baby food, prescription drugs, surgical mesh and wine have been counterfeited in his state. That's in addition to old favorites like clothing, shoes, DVDs and CDs. The Chamber says counterfeiting and piracy costs the country about $250 billion every year and has led to the loss of more than 750,000 jobs. The Financial Crime Intelligence Center of McDonnell's office has assisted local law enforcement agencies in more than 25 criminal cases involving counterfeiting in the past three years, recovering counterfeit products valued at nearly $15 million. Virginia's new legislation will expand the definition of a "mark" to include marks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as protect trademarks in Virginia. Also, the penalty for trademark infringement will be bumped to a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine), while possessing 100 or more counterfeit registered marks and possessing counterfeit items valued at $200 or more will be Class 6 felonies, punishable by 1-5 years in jail and a $2,500 fine. Legislation in Florida also made punishment for counterfeiting harsher. McDonnell, a Republican, is running for Governor of Virginia in 2009. From Legal Newsline: John O'Brien can be reached by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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