The laws relating to counterfeiting and piracy vary. There are various federal statutes and state statutes that apply to intellectual property crimes. It is important for any law enforcement professional to know and understand the various laws that exist to protect intellectual property (IP) rights owners. It is also very important that intellectual property rights owners know and understand the laws that govern intellectual property matters.
State Statutes • Federal Statute
Knowing and understanding the laws that exist will assist law enforcement in their efforts to successfully prosecute those that are involved in intellectual property crimes. It is important for those law enforcement professionals newly involved with the prosecution or investigation of IP Crimes to consult professionals that have the knowledge and experience in these types of matters. There is no substitute to experience in these types of cases.
IP Crime cases are normally not very complicated cases, however because of the growing involvement of organized crime and other criminal syndicates in these crimes, it has become even more important to fully understand these crimes and the way these criminal enterprises are structured and operate. Counterfeiting and piracy operations have become much more sophisticated over the past years. The organizations involved in IP Crimes are no different than drug cartels. These organizations have been found to be involved in some of the following crimes, along with IP Crimes:
- Drug trafficking
- Human trafficking / Forced labor
- Insurance fraud
- Organized Retail Crime (ORC)
- Funding terrorist organizations
- Tax evasion
- Matters of National Security
If you know and understand these crimes, you can do a much better job in eliminating the organizations that are reaping huge benefits from their criminal activity. The affects of IP Crimes are devastating to the local and world economies. It is important for law enforcement to understand the “tools” that are available to them to prosecute these matters. It is important to utilize all the “tools” that are available to you.
Most states in the United States of America have trademark counterfeiting and piracy statutes in place. The state and federal statutes are listed on this page. The laws and penalties will differ from state to state, however there are certain elements that are extremely important to any successful prosecution in these crimes. These crimes do not really have great “jury appeal.” Most juries will look at counterfeiting and piracy as victimless crimes.
Counterfeiting & Piracy are not victimless crimes. These crimes cost our economy millions and millions of dollars each and every year. These crimes cost thousands of American jobs on a yearly basis and our local governments lose tens of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue. It will be important to “educate” the jury and even the judge about the “big picture” of IP Crimes.
It is important in IP cases to prove that the subject “knew or should have known” that the items he was selling were counterfeit. Proving knowledge on the part of the subject is one of the key components to a successful prosecution. Most juries will convict in these cases as long as you can prove knowledge on the subjects part and also that the subject actually made sales or possessed the items for sale. There are many ways to successfully prove these key elements.
It is strongly suggested to anyone investigating or prosecuting an IP case for the first time to contact seasoned professionals, who have successfully prosecuted and investigated IP cases in the past.