Senate Committee Considers Risks of Counterfeits

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2016, 8:30pm

by David Isaacs, Vice President, Government Affairs

The Senate Judiciary Committee today convened a hearing to assess the risks to public health and safety posed by counterfeit products. The hearing covered the full range of counterfeit products, including consumer products, health and personal care products, and pharmaceuticals. While counterfeit semiconductors were not a focus of the hearing, the risks posed by counterfeit semiconductors, including infiltration of counterfeits in the military supply chain, were referenced by Chairman Grassley (R-IA) and the Director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Semiconductors are embedded into countless products and systems that perform critical functions in our society. The failure of a single component in one of these products or systems can have catastrophic consequences. SIA’s anti-counterfeiting white paper identifies numerous known incidents of counterfeit semiconductors causing or potentially causing health, safety, and security risks:

• Medical devices: A counterfeit semiconductor component was identified in an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), resulting in a defibrillator over-voltage condition. Failure to detect and address this issue could have resulted in improper electrical shocks being applied to heart attack victims, jeopardizing their lives.

• Household appliances: A counterfeit semiconductor component caused a fire in the control circuitry in a vacuum cleaner for residential use. This fire was successfully contained, but it had the potential to result in major property damage or even loss of life.

• Air travel: A counterfeit semiconductor failed in a power supply used for airport landing lights. This did not result in any reported airline take-off or landing incidents, but the potential for such incidents was obvious.

SIA has long promoted measures – many of which are outlined in SIA’s anti-counterfeiting white paper – to combat counterfeits. In 2015, we advanced procurement regulations that will promote the purchase of trustworthy and authentic semiconductors from authorized sources in all Department of Defense (DoD) contracts. We also successfully advocated for language in the Customs bill, which Congress passed and the President signed into law earlier this year, to enable Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to share information with companies on counterfeit chips and improve enforcement.

SIA will continue to work with policymakers to advance initiatives that reduce the supply of counterfeit semiconductors and help ensure the safety and security of critical technologies vital to consumers, the U.S. military, and our economy.