CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte business has been fighting for more than two years after discovering it was the victim of theft from halfway around the world.
A company in China has been operating under the same name and logo used by Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, a Charlotte-based company that's been in existence since 1901.
The company said its CEO, Roddy Dowd, Jr., first discovered someone using his company's name and logo in 2015.
Company spokesman Brad Muller gave WBTV a picture someone snapped of a billboard in China for the imposter company, using the Charlotte Pipe and Foundry logo along with a business card from Hubin Wang, who purports to be general manager of Charlotte Industrial Piping systems. Again, the card uses the same logo as Charlotte Pipe and Foundry and even claims the logo is a registered trademark.
"We were pretty outraged," Muller said of he and his coworkers upon learning of the theft.
"That's a pretty brazen theft of intellectual property and it's going to cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to litigate that in China," Muller said. "It's not only the intellectual property theft, we're also suing them at the (United States International Trade Commission) for dumping and illegal subsidies of case iron pipe and fittings."
Charlotte Pipe and Foundry is a local example of the unfair trade practices Congressman Robert Pittenger has been fighting against for years.
"We need to check the Chinese," Pittenger said in an interview with WBTV. "We need to check any country that is seeking to exploit our markets."
Most recently, Pittenger has turned his attention to efforts by the Chinese to steal intellectual property and trade secrets related to American national security and defense.
Pittenger is the primary sponsor of a bill in the US House of Representatives that seeks to crack down on Chinese companies partnering with or purchasing American companies as a means of acquiring sensitive information.
"My intent through my bill - along with Senator (John) Cornyn (R-TX), who is co-sponsoring the same bill in the Senate - is to give greater accountability to make sure that these companies are not acquiring our very sophisticated military technology," Pittenger said.
Pittenger has recently taken aim at a pair of international companies who, he claims, have entered into partnerships with Chinese companies that put US national security information in the hands of the Chinese. Both companies are pushing back.
"The Chinese set forth a number of years ago to become superior technology," Pittenger said. "And President Xi has made it his goal and he is succeeding."
Both Pittenger and Muller pointing to recent actions by the Trump Administration - most notably, tariffs on a host of Chinese-made goods, which was cheered by a rare bipartisan group of Congressional leaders - as steps they feel will help push back against Chinese trade theft.
"We truly believe that the Trump administration gets it on trade with China - particularly with China - and they are being very aggressive, as you know, to try to curtail some of this behavior," Muller, with Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, said.