U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is demanding action from the Chinese government to end unfair trade policies that he said are harming workers and businesses in the Lehigh Valley and around the country.
During a news conference at C. F. Martin & Co. today, Casey said he has heard from several state businesses that unfair practices by the Chinese have harmed their ability to compete in the job market, and job losses have substantiated those claims.
"Someone in China to market these guitars with his (Martin) name on it is inexcusable," Casey said, noting he's going to push the U.S. government to step in and take a tougher stance with China on distributing these products.
C.F. Martin & Co. has been fighting since 2005 to register its mark with the Chinese government to prevent the sale of counterfeit guitars in that country.
"What a shame for someone who has taken their hard earned money and buy what they think is a Martin guitar and it's a badly made copy of a Martin guitar," said Chris Martin, chairman and chief executive officer of Martin Guitar.
Martin said authentic guitars cost on average about $2,500. Those sold as counterfeit, cost about $200 to $300. Martin said, from a distance, it would be hard to tell if the guitar was not authentic. However, up close and examining it, a person might see cracking in the wood.
A real Martin guitar takes 16 to 24 weeks to build. A counterfeit takes no more than two weeks, said Keith Lombardi, president of C.F. Martin & Co.
Casey last month sent a letter to President Barack Obama detailing the hardships imposed on CF Martin & Co. by China’s unfair trade practices and urged the president to press the issue with Chinese President Hu Jintaro during his visit to Washington, D.C. In the letter, Casey also urged the president to focus his discussions with Hu around intellectual property rights' protections and currency valuation.
China's inadequate intellectual property protections are well documented, the letter stated. The Office of the United States Trade Representative last April placed China on its "priority watch" list, citing China’s poor level of IRP protection and enforcement.