If you’ve been a reader of Coin World for any time within the past couple of years, you know from the many excellent investigative articles that the hobby is encountering a serious threat from Chinese counterfeits of U.S. numismatic coins. But the coin community is fighting back via a new bill that will, if passed, give new, broader enforcement powers to the Hobby Protection Act.
H.R. 5977 — the “Collectible Coin Protection Act” — was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 20 by co-sponsors Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Fred Upton, D-Mich., chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. This act will provide needed “teeth” for the Hobby Protection Act by adding language clearly and specifically targeting those “providing substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller” of counterfeit items.
The legislation was drafted from suggestions provided by the Industry Council For Tangible Assets, an industry trade association, as well as individual collectors and legal counsel, and provides amendments to the Hobby Protection Act long sought by those seeking to add real effectiveness to the legislation that was written way before the current technology existed for the counterfeiting of not only coins but also certification capsules.
Some of the features of the bill are:
➤ Expanding the targets of litigation to include not previously covered areas such as “any person” who provides substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller “knowingly engaging in any act or practice that violates the Act.”
➤ Adds trademark violation provisions to the Hobby Protection Act targeted at the counterfeiting of certification service packaging and capsules and adds remedies previously not included in the Hobby Protection Act incorporating sections of the Trademark Act of 1946 (USC Title 15, Sections 1116-1118) as violations of the Hobby Protection Act.
➤ Adds the legal authority to obtain injunctions; to recover damages for violations that include profits, costs, attorney fees and treble damages for punishment; and to provide for the destruction of any infringing articles.
But H.R. 5977 needs your personal involvement to become actual law.
The bill must garner many more legislative sponsors — your representatives in Congress — in order to provide our hobby with this upgraded protection from these counterfeiters.
It’s very simple, yet critical, for you to contact your member of Congress. Simply go to the ICTA website (www.ictaonline.org), and click on the “What’s New” tab. There you will find a direct link for finding and communicating with your congressional representative. Click on the link and just follow the prompts. It’s very easy, and if you’re not sure who your representative is, all you need to know is your ZIP code to find out.
Keep your email, telephone call or letter brief and to the point. Simply ask that they cosponsor (or support) H.R. 5977, a bill that will strengthen the existing Hobby Protection Act and help combat the proliferation of counterfeit United States coins made in China. You might also mention that the bill is “revenue neutral” meaning that it has no financial impact on the national budget. Be sure to include your name, address and contact phone number.
Counterfeits in our marketplace are damaging both to individuals who are innocent victims and the economy of our community in general. Please take a few minutes — right now would be good! — to send a short email or letter to protect your business, hobby and collection.
Bob Greenstein and Diane Piret are the chairman and Industry affairs director, respectively, of the Industry Council For Tangible Assets, www.ictaonline.org.