New York City may criminalize buying counterfeit goods

NEW YORK—Buying fake designer sunglasses, handbags, electronics and other counterfeit merchandise on the streets of Manhattan may soon be a crime.

New York City Council member Margaret Chin has drafted new legislation that would make buying counterfeit goods a Class A misdemeanor in the city, punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Chin, who represents a large part of lower Manhattan that includes SoHo, Chinatown and Wall Street, plans to formally introduce the legislation in a City Council meeting scheduled for tomorrow, April 28.

“The ease at which counterfeit goods are sold in New York City reflects negatively on our City, Chin said in a statement. “I urge visitors to come to New York for its authenticity—not to buy fake bags or electronics. Lower Manhattan is the historical seat of immigrant neighborhoods in Manhattan and we have a genuine, unique experience to offer tourists. We want tourists to patronize the local artists and designers available here, not knock-offs.”

Chin’s press release announcing the legislation explained, “The bill targets those who purchase goods which they should know are counterfeit, based on the cost or quality of the item or the conditions and location of the seller or sale.” It is already illegal to sell counterfeit goods.

Added Chin, “Our laws [are] incomplete in that they only target the supply of these items and not the demand. The bottom line is counterfeiters have to sell to do their job and we need a law in place that punishes buyers for supporting this illegal trade.”

Chin’s office estimated that the counterfeit trade costs the city $1 billion each year.

Once the bill is introduced, it will need a Council committee’s support to be considered for a vote by the rest of the 51-member Council.

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