TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum joined several others Thursday in introducing state legislation designed to combat counterfeit and pirated goods.

McCollum, two state lawmakers and the U.S. and Florida chambers of commerce all joined in unveiling two bills designed from a model created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and two other organizations. The U.S. Chamber owns Legal Newsline.

"Counterfeited goods are not just inexpensive handbags or pirated DVDs," McCollum said. "These goods need to be seen for the dangerous threat they truly are -- counterfeit and potentially deadly prescription medicine, defective medical devices and other unregulated products which could cause serious bodily harm.

"Not only do these goods damage our economy, they can devastate our citizens' health and well-being."

McCollum says counterfeiting and piracy costs the U.S. economy more than $200 billion a year and has led to the loss of 750,000 jobs.

The International Trademark Association and the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition also helped create the model state legislation. State Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, and Rep. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, introduced the bills.

The bills would increase penalties for repeat offenders and create a penalty system based on the value of the counterfeit or pirated goods. Also, penalties would be increased for goods that could cause bodily injury or death.

"It is vitally important that we take steps to protect our citizens from what could be life-threatening counterfeit products," Diaz de la Portilla said. "Floridians need to understand the potential danger of some of these products."

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