On December 21, 2011, Petzl America became aware of our presence on a list of companies purportedly supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA; H.R. 3261). However, Petzl America does not and has never supported SOPA or the related senate bill known as the Protect IP Act.
In February, 2011, Petzl did sign on to a letter circulated by the Outdoor Industry Association supporting government action against intellectual property theft via “rogue websites.” That letter made no mention of any specific legislation, and support for it was spurred by Petzl’s own encounter with the problem of counterfeit life-safety products.
When offering Petzl America’s support for such legislation, company President Roody Rasmussen stated in a February 14,2011, email, “Please include Petzl America as a signatory on your letter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of their campaign to lobby congress for stronger legislation against counterfeit products that are appearing more and more in the U.S. marketplace.” This email continues:
As you know, Petzl has had a long-standing battle with companies who have stolen and copied our intellectual property and product designs.
Until recently, this was only a problem with our headlamps. On Friday, we released information warning the consumer that counterfeits of products from our line of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – life safety climbing gear – have been discovered. These counterfeit copies have the potential of putting lives at risk, as they are nearly exact duplicates of Petzl equipment, including our logo, but they fail at loads well below the safety standards set by CE and the UIAA. The loss of business from lost sales to counterfeiters pales in comparison to the risk these copies present to climbers, and the potential damage to the credibility of the Petzl brand, which has been built on the core value of producing the highest quality vertical safety equipment. You can find this warning at:
To date, there have been no counterfeited products found in North America. If end-users purchase from authorized Petzl dealers, there is no danger they will be purchasing counterfeited Petzl equipment. However, purchasing from grey market dealers, buying used equipment, or purchasing from rogue Internet sites, puts the user at risk of obtaining these low quality fakes.
This example provides a solid case as to the growing dangers presented by counterfeited products and the potential harm they present to U.S. businesses and consumers alike. We appreciate the support of the Outdoor Industry Association and your efforts to address this problem by encouraging stronger legislation against pirates of intellectual property, production of counterfeited products, and the rogue web sites that support this piracy.
President, Petzl America, Inc.
To reiterate, Petzl America has not and does not support SOPA or the Protect IP Act. Nor do we support any legislation that would harm the freedom of the Internet. We are strongly against counterfeiting, especially, as in the case of counterfeited Petzl products, where the safety of the end user is concerned. By extension, we are for legislation that would help reduce the theft of intellectual property, production of counterfeit goods, and knowing sale of counterfeit goods. However, we believe that SOPA and Protect IP do not address these concerns in a constructive manner.
We hope that this statement helps to clarify our stance on SOPA, Protect IP, and the general issue of IP theft and counterfeiting. We sincerely apologize for any confusion surrounding these issues.
UPDATE (Jan. 4, 2011)
- Petzl's name no longer appears on the official list of SOPA supporters, which can be viewed here: http://judiciary.house.gov/issues/Rogue%20Websites/List%20of%20SOPA%20Supporters.pdf
- The Outdoor Industry Association today posted a new item in which they neither support nor oppose SOPA: http://www.outdoorindustry.org/news.webnews.php?newsId=15624&newsletterId=253&newsSubType=Trade&utm_source=informz&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WN20120104%20Issues&action=display