On May 7, 2013, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas introduced H.R. 1849: Collectible Coin Protection Act. This bill seeks to broaden the existing Hobby Protection Act by making it unlawful to support or assist anyone who violates the act and adding trademark violations to the act.
The Hobby Protection Act was enacted in 1973 and made it illegal to manufacture or import into the United States any imitation numismatic item that was not plainly and permanently marked “COPY.”
Following an influx of unmarked replica and counterfeit coins manufactured in China, there were calls from the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA), professional numismatists, and collectors to provide broader enforcement powers for the act. Executives of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) had also implored Congress to take action, arranging meetings with members of Congress during which Chinese made counterfeits were shown.
In June 2012, the original Collectible Coin Protection Act was introduced by Lamar Smith. The legislation attracted 11 cosponsors and was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce with no further action taken.
The new bill introduced in the 113th Congress, contains similar provisions as the original bill.
As it is currently worded, the Hobby Protection Act covers the manufacture and importation of unmarked replicas for “introduction into or distribution in commerce.” The Act does not make the actual sale of such items illegal. The Collectible Coin Protection Act would rectify this by adding “or the sale in commerce.”
The Collectible Coin Protection Act would also broaden the scope of the current law by making it unlawful for a person to provide substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller, if that person knows or consciously avoids knowing that the manufacturer, importer, or seller is engaged in any act or practice that violates the Act.
Finally, the bill would extend the Act to cover the unauthorized use of registered trademarks belonging to a collectibles certification company. The owner of the trademark would have the remedies provided under the Hobby Protection Act as well as the Trademark Act of 1946. This new provision was added to specifically combat the issue fake third party coin grading holders bearing the logos or names or legitimate coin grading services.
The bill H.R. 1849 currently has three cosponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. In order to become law, the bill must be approved by Congress and signed by the President.