It is a federal offense to sell or distribute counterfeit merchandise. The crime can result in severe penalties, including prison time and serious fines. If you are facing charges involving counterfeit merchandise, it is critical to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now for help.
What is the Federal Crime of Selling Counterfeit Merchandise?
18 USC 2320 is the federal statute that sets forth the laws regarding the selling of counterfeit merchandise. According to this law, it is a crime if you knowingly distribute, wholesale, or sell any counterfeit merchandise or service. The law applies to both the counterfeiter and the company or person who knowingly sells any counterfeit merchandise, product, or service.
“Counterfeit merchandise” generally includes manufactured goods that are sold under the brand name of another, usually superior product. Makers of this type of merchandise use a brand name:
- without the owner’s permission, and
- with the intent to defraud or deceive.
What are the Penalties?
If you are convicted of selling counterfeit merchandise, you can face any of the following penalties:
- imprisonment for up to 10 years for a first offense and up to 20 years for a second or subsequent conviction,
- fines of up to $5 million dollars (and up to $15 million for corporations), and
- seizure and destruction of the counterfeit merchandise that you have in your possession.
In addition to the above, the true owner of the brand name that you used to sell any merchandise can file a civil lawsuit against you.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Yes. You can challenge a counterfeiting charge with a legal defense. A common defense is for you to show that you did not know that the goods you were selling were counterfeit items. It may have been the case that you obtained certain goods, with the intent to sell them, under the reasonable belief that they were genuine.
A second defense is for you to prove that the goods in question were not counterfeit items. Here, you’ll likely need to present the following evidence:
- manufacturing documents concerning a good’s creation,
- evidence that you own the trademark that is placed on the merchandise, and
- testimony from people who can verify the genuineness of the merchandise.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a charge involving counterfeit merchandise, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various federal charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in firearm cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!