Counterfeiting Isn’t a Single Offense

More often than not, the act of falsifying one product or currency may result in a list of offenses. Make no mistake, the legal system does not look favorably upon those facing trial for counterfeiting charges. Judges will often use these associated crimes to further the available penalties. This can mean longer jail sentences, bigger fines and, in some cases, life imprisonment.

These are some of the charges which may be added to counterfeiting cases.

Patent/Trademark Infringement

The goal of knock off products is to create a cheap item closely resembling one of high value, using the established brand’s image to make a high priced sale. These brands which they hope to resemble count as intellectual property, therefore falling under copyright and trademark laws.

Counterfeit or not, any products which closely resemble the design, look or logo of an existing brand are at risk of a lawsuit. These eight specific elements determine whether or not a product is in violation of copyright and trademark laws.

  • Strength of the mark
  • Proximity of the goods
  • Similarity of the mark
  • Evidence of actual confusion
  • Marketing channels used
  • Type of goods and the degree of care likely the be exercised by the purchaser
  • Defendant’s intent when creating the mark
  • Likelihood of expansion of the product lines

Fraud

Selling a product which misrepresents itself or pretends to be another product is fraud. Consumers may pay full retail or suspiciously low prices to receive products which imitate designer fashion apparel, electronics and more. Many times, these products were never intended to work or function as expected.

Murder or Manslaughter

Cases entering this territory may be few and far between, but they are possible. Cheap, defective products can injure, or maim consumers when they fail. Counterfeit brakes, for example, may fail when a driver least expects it, causing a tragic accident. Food items and medicine may be made with toxic chemicals or contain ingredients not listed on the packaging.

Before a criminal can be tried for a more serious offense in connection to counterfeiting, it must first be established that the individual’s injury or death was solely the cause of the product. Additionally, whether the counterfeiter knew of the risks when producing or selling the product.

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