A trademark is any word or symbol that a producer uses to identify the source of goods or services. Trademark law exists to prevent consumer confusion and protect business goodwill by not allowing businesses to misrepresent the source of their goods
Trademark infringement is illegal use of someone else’s mark. There are several ways someone can be liable for trademark infringement, but generally it is because someone is using the same or similar mark.
One increasingly common form of trademark infringement is creating counterfeit goods. Trademark counterfeiting is when a manufacturer produces goods that look exactly like the goods produced by the trademark owner, including stealing the logo and putting it on the fake product, and passes them off as the trademark owner’s goods.
Trademark counterfeiting is a very serious problem, since most consumers will assume that the logo on the products indicates their true source. In addition to misleading consumers, the owner of the trademark is harmed, because the counterfeit goods may be of lower quality than the real ones, which hurts their reputation and business goodwill.
Punishments for Counterfeiting a Trademark
In the United States, the Customs Office can seize imported counterfeit goods, which may lead to criminal fines. Also, the trademark owner may sue producers of counterfeit goods. The owner can recover any lost profits and sometimes recover up to 3 times their actual damages (meant as a deterrent), resulting in huge awards.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Legal Issues with Counterfeit Goods?
If you are facing criminal charges in connection with counterfeit goods, you may wish to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can advise you on the various trade laws of your state. Or, if you suspect that someone has been counterfeiting your product, you can contact an intellectual property lawyer for advice on an infringement lawsuit.