The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has launched a new Brand Protection Council to help protect US branded products against cheap imitations that are flooding the marketplace.
 
The Council is composed of legal, brand enforcement and marketing representatives of US based companies, and is described as "a new weapon in the war against counterfeit apparel and footwear products."
 
"America's branded apparel and footwear industry is under siege by fake products masquerading as authentic and valuable brands," said AAFA president and CEO Kevin M Burke. "Our member companies do not intend to stand by while the integrity of their products is destroyed."
 
The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that counterfeit products cost the global economy some $600 billion annually, and the US Chamber of Commerce estimates that US companies lose upwards of $250 billion each year due to counterfeiting. 

Apparel, footwear and related accessories represent nearly 40 per cent of all seizures made by the Department of Homeland Security during FY 2005.
 
AAFA was one of the earliest industry supporters of the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act (S 1699 and HR 32), which has been approved by both houses of Congress. 

Minor differences need to be resolved before the measure can be sent to President Bush for his signature. "We are hopeful that this important bill will be signed into law very shortly," Burke said.

The bill would require the mandatory destruction of equipment used to manufacture and package counterfeit goods. It also addresses methods that counterfeiters have used to evade prosecution, such as the selling of patch sets or medallions that can later be attached to generic merchandise to give it the appearance of a genuine product.