Knowingly making or selling copied products that also bear trademarks is considered trademark counterfeiting, and may result in serious criminal charges.
People in Dallas, and elsewhere, often want a designer look without a designer price tag. As such, a market has developed for what are commonly referred to as knock off products. If such products use trademarked designs or logos, however, those who sell them could be charged with counterfeiting, a serious criminal offense.
Recently, KXXV.com reported that a Waco man was accused of trademarkcounterfeiting. According to reports, authorities found copies of more than 300 trademarked items for sale in his clothing store. The items had a total value of over $18,000. If convicted, the man could face a range of penalties, with potentially lasting consequences.
What is trademark counterfeiting?
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, trademarks include names, symbols, devices, words or any combination of these. These marks are intended, or used, to distinguish and identify the products or services of one provider from those of others. Trademarks must be registered with the secretary of state, the USPTO’s principal register or another state’s laws.
Under Texas state law, it is illegal for people to intentionally make, distribute, sell or possess with the intention of selling products that have counterfeit trademarks. This could include making and selling pirated DVDs or illegally copied CDs, as well as producing and selling fake brand-name purses.
Trademark counterfeiting charges
The level of offense for trademark counterfeiting that people may be charged with varies based on a number of factors, including the aggregate value of the merchandise. People may be charged with a class C misdemeanor if the items’ or services’ value is under $20. In cases when the value of the items or services is between $20 and $500, people may face class B misdemeanor charges. The charges for this white collar offense are typically enhanced to class A misdemeanors when the item or service’s value was between $500 and $1,500.
Sometimes, trademark counterfeiting is charged as a felony level offense. Under Texas state law, this charge is considered a state jail felony when the value of the item or services is between $1,500 and $20,000. People may be charged with third-degree felonies when the items’ or services’ values are at least $20,000, but no more than $100,000. Trademark counterfeiting may be enhanced to a second-degree felony if the retail value of the items is between $100,000 and $200,000. In cases when the item or service’s value exceeds $200,000, people may be charged with a first-degree felony.
Penalties for trademark counterfeiting
People could face a range of penalties if convicted of trademark counterfeiting. The severity of the consequences they face varies based on factors, including the level of offense a person is charged with. For misdemeanor level offenses, people could be ordered to pay fines of between $500 and $4,000. They could also be sentenced to between 180 days and one year in county jail.
The potential consequences are more severe for felony level trademark counterfeiting charges. If convicted of felony charges, people could be fined up to $10,000. They may also be sentenced to serve between 180 days and 99 years in state prison.
Building a defense
A counterfeiting conviction can have long-term implications for people in Texas. In addition to the potential legal penalties, being found guilty of this offense may affect people’s future employment opportunities. Therefore, those accused of trademark counterfeiting may benefit from working with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their rights, and help them build a defense against the charges they are facing.