House Approves Anti-counterfeiting Amendments of 2003 and Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act

September 21, 2004. The House amended and approved HR 3632, the "Anti-counterfeiting Amendments of 2003" by a voice vote. This bill has become the vehicle for numerous provisions, some of which are not related to counterfeiting. The bill, as amended by the full House, also includes the language of HR 3754, the "Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act", as well as two bills to provide for additional meeting places of federal courts. The bill has been renamed the "Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Improvements Act of 2004".

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and others introduced HR 3632 on November 21, 2003. See, story titled "Rep. Smith Introduces Bill to Strengthen Ban on Counterfeit Labeling of Software, Movies and Music" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 787, November 26, 2003.

This bill revises and expands 18 U.S.C. 2318, which pertains to trafficking in counterfeit labels, documentation and packaging of computer programs, phonorecords, and movies.

The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property (CIIP) held a hearing on February 12, 2004. The CIIP Subcommittee amended and approved the bill on March 31, 2004. The full Committee amended and approved the bill on June 23, 2004. See, House Report No. 108-600.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the Chairman of the full Committee, said on September 21 that "Efforts to ensure that consumers are able to know whether they are buying legitimate software, music, movies, and other forms of intellectual property are being subverted by those who counterfeit authentication labels and steal legitimate ones. These counterfeited and illicit labels are then attached to counterfeit products defrauding consumers into thinking that they have purchased a legitimate copy of the product, when they have not.  The middleman who traffics in illicit and counterfeit labels can walk away from his crime with no penalties. H.R. 3632 would close this loophole and ensure that everyone who undertakes a scheme to defraud consumers faces criminal penalties."

Rep. Smith and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced HR 3754, the "Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act", on February 3, 2004. This bill provides additional civil and criminal remedies in actions that also involve domain name fraud. The CIIP Subcommittee held a hearing on February 4, 2004. See, story titled "Representatives Introduce Bill to Deter Domain Name Fraud" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No.830, February 5, 2004.

The CIIP Subcommittee amended and approved the bill on March 31, 2004. The full Committee amended and approved the bill on May 12, 2004. See, House Report No. 108-536.

The bill addresses problems associated with the registration of domain names with false information. For example, law enforcement authorities use the Whois database of domain name registration information to identify and locate people who use web sites to commit crimes. False registration information makes identifying the fraud artists more difficult. Similarly, false registration information makes it harder for trademark holders to pursue cybersquatters who register domain names that infringe their trademarks. False registration information also makes it harder for copyrights holders and manufacturers to locate online infringers and online sellers of counterfeit goods.

The bill as approved by the House also includes the language of HR 112, a bill to amend Title 28 to provide that the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado shall also meet in Colorado Springs.

The bill as approved by the House also includes the language of HR 4646, a bill to amend Title 28 to provide that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York shall also meet in Plattsburgh.