Friday, April 30, 2010 10:18 am | By Caitlin Blaney
Members of the US Armed Forces often joke with one another, “Always remember that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder”. Yesterday, however, the joke became less funny when the Government Accountability Office discovered that counterfeit parts have been used to manufacture equipment for the Department of Defense. Worse still, the DOD is unsure exactly where the problem originated or how much equipment might be affected. The lives of hundreds of US soldiers may be in jeopardy because DOD oversight was decidedly lax.
This discovery is an unfortunate reminder of the importance of observing strong property rights. Inventions which hold patents and other protective legal rights have been marked as quality products to be manufactured only with permission. Products manufactured without permission in an attempt to market a cheap product begets just that – a cheap product. Many people do not consider the ramifications of counterfeit products when purchasing a fake brand-name purse from a street vendor; the consequences become much more real, though, when they affect the lives of our fighting men and women.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, says he plans to hold hearings to investigate the problem and possibly impose stricter rules for DOD equipment contractors.