Copyright infringement includes unauthorized production and/or distribution of copyrighted works for commercial advantage or private financial gain. One copy is sufficient to violate the copyright laws if the total retail value is more than US$ 1,000, or if it relates to work being prepared for commercial distribution (unauthorized, knowing distribution via computer network to the public). The copyrighted works described under the federal law include computer programs, musical works, sound recordings, motion pictures, audiovisual works, etc. Common examples of copyright infringement include pirate copies of music CD’s and movie DVD’s. Reproduction of such works without the permission of the copyright holder is known as “piracy”. The FBI investigates copyright violations in an aggressive manner especially if there is a large commercial type operation involved where the profit from the activity is substantial.
Trademark counterfeiting is a felony as prescribed by federal statute and involves unauthorized copying of someone else’s trademark or service mark. Common examples include counterfeit designer handbags and sunglasses commonly sold in overseas markets.
There are also a variety of civil penalties which can be sought by plaintiffs to be enforced against a defendant in these type of cases as well as criminal prosecutions relating to copyright and trademark infringement. In order for a criminal case to be successful by a federal prosecutor in copyright and trademark infringement, it must be shown that the defendant knew that the product was the same or similar to the original copied work or had the intent to purposely copy a work relating to intellectual property. The evidence of the copy of copyrighted material or merchandise that appears to violate the trademark infringement statute is not sufficient to obtain a conviction in prosecutions of copyright violations without a showing of intent on the part of the accused.
The penalties vary for violations of the federal copyright and trademark laws but sentences can increase depending on the number of counts brought against a defendant. If you have been charged with copyright infringement or trademark counterfeiting or interviewed by the FBI relating to possible charges, we invite you to please contact the offices of Youngs and Associates as soon as possible. We have the experience to deal with federal copyright cases and we will strive to use every legal tool to obtain the optimum result under the circumstances for our clients. Our attorneys are available anytime to discuss your case, and the first consultation is free of charge. Please take the time to call our office on our toll free phone and discuss your case.