Congress has once again been presented with legislation to amend the
Hobby Protection Act.
H.R. 1849 was introduced on May 7 by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. Smith
introduced similar legislation in 2012 but that measure died for lack
The most recent legislation would once again seek expansion of the
Hobby Protection Act to cover sales of replica numismatic items that
violate the act, and also afford greater trademark protection to
grading services’ slabs.
The legislation is in response to the continued threat from
Chinese-made counterfeit coins being sold through online auction
sites, flea markets and other venues, though few criminal prosecutions
have been brought against the sellers under counterfeiting laws.
“It would put teeth into the Hobby Protection Act,” said Eloise
Ullman, executive director of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets.
The legislation, if approved by Congress and signed by President
Obama, would make it a violation of the act for someone to assist or
support “any manufacturer, importer, or seller if that person knows or
consciously avoids knowing that the manufacturer, importer, or seller
is engaged in any act or practice” that violates specific subsections
of the act.
This would include the sale of counterfeit coins in the prohibitions
and expand the federal venue and remedies available to victims of counterfeiting.
Currently the Hobby Protection Act regulates the manufacture of
reproductions of numismatic and political replicas, including copies
of such items as Colonial coins, pioneer gold coins and paper money.
Such replicas must be marked with the word “COPY” on one side.
The new legislation, in addition to making it a violation of the act
to aid those making, importing or selling unmarked numismatic
replicas, would also add a section to the act on trademark violations
regarding the “unauthorized use of registered trademarks belonging to
a collectibles certification service,” defined in the bill as “a
person recognized by collectors for providing independent
certification that collectible items are genuine.”
That would extend enforcement to fake coin encapsulation holders
bearing the logos of legitimate coin grading services.
Congress approved the Hobby Protection Act on Nov. 29, 1973. The act
designated the Federal Trade Commission to develop regulations
regarding how marking replicas would be carried out. The FTC issued
its Rules and Regulations in 1975 under the Hobby Protection Act.
Those rules established the sizes and dimensions of the letters and
numerals to be used as well as the location of the markings.
The rule was amended in 1988 to provide additional guidance on the
minimum size of letters for the word “COPY” as a proportion of the
diameter of the coin reproductions. ■