"We must move from a perspective where counterfeiting is a four-syllable word to one where it is a four-letter word," says NBC Universal executive vice president and general counsel Rick Cotton, "from where counterfeiting is regarded as morally ambiguous to where it is recognized as a reprehensible job killer in a U.S. economy that is starved for high-wage employment."
Cotton was testifying Tuesday as chairman of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy before a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on S 1631, the Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act.
The coalition strongly supports the bill, which would boost the trade-protection roles of the CBP (Bureau of Customs and Border Protection) and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
Cotton said that cross-border IP theft has "mushroomed from a cottage industry into a global network that endangers our economy, kills our jobs, threatens our citizens health and safety and nourishes organized crime."
He put the scale of the threat at half a trillion to a trillion dollars a year, or what he called "a growing tsunami."
Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who co-sponsored the bill, talked about the importance of putting higher priority on trade protection. The bill creates new customs posts and better target imports, including intellectual property. Baucus also said the government needs to do a "better job" of consulting with business.
Cotton praised the bill's creation of a broad strategic plan, but also said there must be specifics forcing ICE and CBP to think strategically. He also said there needs to be a "heavy emphasis" on the technological tools to identify potential pirated goods.
Cotton said the borders should be the last line of defense, not the first.