Long the province of street corner peddlers and car or truck trunk salesmen, counterfeit goods are now accessible just about everywhere. Even major time retailers known for the excellent of their merchandise have been caught accidentially promoting counterfeit products. To compound this issue, the high quality of fake products has been finding greater, and they have turn into substantially simpler to get. Worse yet, many of the biggest suppliers claim to be authorized wholesalers. This has led to several fake solutions becoming sold on Amazon.com, eBay, and other World wide web marketplaces – and normally the sellers have no idea that the items that they are selling are fakes. Worse yet, the producers of counterfeit solutions frequently reside in “Justice Cost-free” nations, exactly where it would be prohibitively pricey, and probably impossible for brand name companies to sue them.
Even so, brand name organizations have began to fight back hard. Quite a few have retained law firms to target counterfeited goods in any way they can – for example, the California firm Johnson & Pham has been retained by many brands to shut down counterfeit sellers. They have targeted on line sellers that reside in, and are amenable to service of approach, in the United States. A lot of of these on-line sellers are ordinary persons looking to make a handful of added dollars. And none of them are prepared for highly-priced lawsuits demanding tens of thousands of dollars in compensation, and potentially requiring tens of thousands of more dollars to employ counsel.
Brand name suppliers will frequently pursue on the web sellers for one particular of the following causes of action:
A. Trademark Infringement: Section 32(l) of the Lanham Act especially prohibits the unauthorized use, sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of counterfeit goods. Most state trademark statutes have analogous sections. Trafficking in counterfeit goods is typically described as “trademark infringement in the initial degree.”
B. Unfair Competitors: Even if a mark is not registered, an action for unfair competition can be brought to protect against consumer confusion. If the mark is not registered, this might be the most viable cause of action.
C. Trademark Dilution: As counterfeiters commonly only go immediately after famous marks, most counterfeit instances will allege trademark dilution as effectively.
D. Copyright Infringement: In quite a few circumstances, the counterfeiter will duplicate the Brand’s logo, packaging designs, instruction manuals, and so forth. A lot of of these are registered copyrights.
Typically, the law firm retained by the brand contacts counterfeit sellers just before initiating a lawsuit. If you really should receive such a letter, you have to have to act rapidly to defend your self. Under is an action plan that I propose to consumers.
1. Do not Ignore the Letter. These instances will not go away if you ignore them. Alternatively, the extremely aggressive firms that brands employ to pursue counterfeiters will file a complaint and raise their demand. And, if you continue to ignore the problem, the brand will get a default judgment against you – likely for many times the damage you would have suffered otherwise.
two. Do not Speak to the Law Firm. If you get in touch with the brand manufactuer’s law firm you are going to speak with an knowledgeable lawyer who is going to do every little thing that s/he can to represent her clients. This consists of getting admissions from you, which are particularly likely to happen. For instance, the attorney may possibly ask you “Exactly where did you get the counterfeit goods from?” Answering such a query is arguably an admission that you trafficked in counterfeit goods.
three. Get the Facts. The most important fact for you to identify is irrespective of whether or not the brand holder will be able to paint you as a willful infringer. In certain, if the brand name manufacturer can convince a jury that you knew you had been trafficking in counterfeit goods, damages can be considerably higher. In specific, if you are an innocent infringer, the damages that a brand name manufacturer can recover are extremely limited and might be zero. On the other hand, if the brand name manufacturer can show that you knowingly trafficked in counterfeit goods, your income, the brands actual damages, treble damages, counterfeit statutory damages, and attorneys charges. In specific, exactly where actual understanding of counterfeiting is shown, harm awards can simply exceed a million dollars ($1,000,000).
four. Hire an Lawyer. Provided the huge quantity of these circumstances that are now getting pursued by brand name producers, a lot of attorneys now give economical special applications to enable individuals and compact businesses resolve these suits. When you hire such an lawyer, keep in thoughts that you want an experienced IP attorney that can basically litigate a case if need be – forget about hiring an lawyer that helped with your will or even a single that might have handled the divorce of an individual you know. Ask the attorney how considerably experience s/he has dealing with counterfeit cases, and if the lawyer has in fact litigated trademark difficulties. And, of course, ask the lawyer how a great deal the action is likely to price if the case is resolved without the need of litigation, and how significantly it is probably to price if the case requirements to be litigated.
five. Have your Lawyer Seek a Demand. After you know what the brand name manufacturer desires, you and your lawyer can establish the greatest approach to take with your case. In specific, if the demand is low adequate, look at paying it or possessing your attorney negotiate additional. If the demand is extremely high, and you are innocent infringer, litigation may perhaps be required to lower the brand name manufacturer’s demand. If you are not an innocent infringer, litigating a case like this can have disastrous consequences. In order counterfeit money online , the damage award against you can be staggering (and is possibly not dischargeable in bankruptcy), and there is a true possibility of criminal enforcement.
If you have received a letter accusing you of trafficking in counterfeit goods, you are undoubtedly beneath a lot of anxiety. I hope that the above action program assists you method your choice as to how to resolve such a case cautiously and calmly.