Under 18 U.S.C. ยง 2319, Criminal Copyright Infringement is punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years and up to 10 years if the offense is a felony and is a second offense.
Oberheiden PC provides experienced, aggressive representation for individuals clients charged with criminal trademark and copyright infringement. If you have been arrested or are subject to an ongoing federal investigation, contact us today to get ahead of your case.
Criminal Trademark and Copyright Infringement Explained
A trademark is any word, logo, design, or color that indicates the commercial source of a particular product or service. Trademark rights are protected by both state and federal law and are designed not only to provide commercial benefits to trademark owners (who can make money off of their recognizable brands), but to protect consumers from confusion as to the source of the products and services they buy as well.
As a result of these dual purposes of trademark protection, infringement of protected trademarks (i.e. using a company’s trademarks without its permission) is punishable under both civil and criminal law. In criminal cases, the allegations of infringement typically involve the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods.
Counterfeiting can take several forms, but frequently involves either:
- Using someone else’s trademark on counterfeit goods, or
- Selling someone else’s product or service under a different trademark.
Penalties for trafficking in counterfeit goods can reach $2,000,000 in fines and a 10-year prison sentence for a first-time offense. For businesses engaged in counterfeiting, the fines for a first-time offense can reach $5,000,000. Read more about facing federal charges for criminal counterfeiting.
Defending Against Criminal Copyright Infringement Charges
Copyrights protect original expressions of creative ideas. Unlike patents, which protect ideas themselves (and for which there currently are no criminal statutes on the books), copyrights protect only expressions of those ideas that have been “fixed in a tangible medium.” Copyrights can protect everything from artwork and recorded songs to computer programs.
Like trademark infringement, copyright infringement can lead to both civil lawsuits and criminal charges. At Oberheiden, P.C., we represent clients facing charges for criminal copyright infringement. The federal criminal copyright statute provides:
Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished . . . if the infringement was committed: (A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain; (B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means . . . of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; or (C) by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.
While the statute lays out three specific ways in which copyright infringement can rise to the level of a federal criminal offense, in each case the government must prove four main elements in order to obtain a conviction. Specifically, the government must prove: (i) that there existed valid copyright which (ii) was infringed by the defendant, (iii) that the defendant infringed the copyright willfully, and (iv) that he or she did so for purposes of private gain or commercial advantage.
If the government can prove all four of these elements, you can face penalties up to and including $250,000 in fines and five years behind bars for each offense.
Penalties for Criminal Trademark and Copyright Infringement
Trademark and copyright are both unique areas of the law with complex rules that apply to balance tests and look to the history and source of each of the goods or services involved in a particular case. As a result, successfully defending charges of criminal trademark or copyright infringement requires a thorough understanding of the federal statutes governing these intellectual property rights and the cases that have provided guidance for their interpretation.
While there may be various nonspecific full and partial defenses available as well such as violation of your Constitutional rights through a warrantless search or seizure of your computer by hiring a law firm with particular experience in criminal infringement cases, you can feel confident that you are receiving the most thorough, best possible defense for your criminal charges. Our defense attorneys are not only experienced in fighting a wide range of federal criminal charges, but they are intimately familiar with the government’s tactics for pursuing criminal infringement claims as well.
Contact Us to Schedule a Free, Confidential Case Evaluation Today
If you are facing criminal trademark or copyright infringement charges, you need serious legal representation. The attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. have successfully represented clients across the country. To speak with one of our attorneys about your case, call our law offices at 866-603-4540 or request a free, confidential case evaluation today.