PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) - Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, along with 41 other state attorneys general, is urging Congress to make intellectual property theft, particularly online, a legislative priority.
The attorneys general argue that counterfeit and infringement operations cost the global economy upwards of $600 billion each year and 2.5 million jobs in the world's 20 major economies.
In a letter to Congress on Monday, Kilmartin and the other attorneys general asked lawmakers to introduce and enact legislation that would cut off international counterfeiting and pirating sites from the American marketplace.
Similar legislation, S. 3804, was introduced in Congress last year.
The letter was addressed to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House judiciary committees, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont; Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas; and Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan.
"While counterfeiting and piracy are not new, the proliferation and extent of these activities is unprecedented," the attorneys general wrote. "Criminals have turned to the Internet, abusing its virtually unlimited distribution opportunities, to expand their illicit activities and profits."
The attorneys general say these criminals are succeeding. They point to a recent study that found just a small sample of 43 rogue sites generated more than 53 billion visits a year.
"The sale of counterfeit and pirated products undermines important sectors of the American economy and the jobs they support. It also robs state and local governments of much needed tax revenue from the sale of legitimate products," Kilmartin said in a statement.
"When criminals illegally exploit American creativity and innovation for their own profit, they harm the livelihood and reputation of businesses both large and small. Legitimate businesses cannot be expected to thrive in the face of daily black market criminal activities that undermine their success."
The 42 attorneys general included in the letter are: Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.