SAN FRANCISCO—U.S. President Barack Obama indicated Thursday (Feb. 11) that he will sign into law a customs bill passed by the U.S. Senate that includes a provision to combat counterfeit semiconductors.

The bill, known as the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 644/S.1269), mandates that U.S. Customs and Border Protection share information and samples of suspected counterfeit parts for rapid identification of counterfeits.

The bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year, had been bogged down in the Senate in a fight over the extension of a ban on Internet taxes included in the legislation. But it passed Thursday by a 75-20 vote.

The circulation of counterfeit semiconductors has drawn increased attention in recent years, with organizations such as the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) lobbying for policies and legislation designed to improve identification of fake parts and crack down on those responsible for their circulation. In 2011, the SIA estimated that counterfeiting costs U.S.-based semiconductor companies more than $7.5 billion per year.

In a statement issued Thursday, John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO, said counterfeit chips pose significant risks to public health, safety and national security.

The customs bill Congress approved today will help reduce this risk and root out counterfeit semiconductors by ensuring open communication between customs officials and semiconductor manufacturers, who are best-equipped to identify counterfeits,” Neuffer said. “This legislation is good news for the semiconductor industry and consumers of our products—and bad news for semiconductor counterfeiters.”

According to the SIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has previously redacted images of suspect counterfeit semiconductors and delayed sharing information with companies that play a vital role in determining if parts are counterfeit.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement Thursday saying that Obama intends to sign the legislation, enacting into law. The statement read, in part, “The legislation would strengthen trade enforcement at our ports and borders and improve our ability to stop evasion of our trade laws; improve transparency, accountability, and coordination in enforcement efforts; and give us unprecedented new tools to address unfair currency practices.”

In addition to the SIA, other trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, also supported the legislation.

—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry for EE Times.

http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1328931

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