Lengthy the province of street corner peddlers and auto trunk salesmen, counterfeit goods are now readily available just about everywhere. Even major time retailers recognized for the high-quality of their goods have been caught accidentially promoting counterfeit goods. To compound this concern, the high-quality of fake merchandise has been obtaining improved, and they have come to be much less complicated to get. Worse however, a lot of of the largest suppliers claim to be authorized wholesalers. This has led to quite a few fake solutions being sold on Amazon.com, eBay, and other Net marketplaces – and usually the sellers have no thought that the goods that they are promoting are fakes. Worse yet, the producers of counterfeit solutions frequently reside in “Justice Cost-free” countries, exactly where it would be prohibitively highly-priced, and probably not possible for brand name suppliers to sue them.
Even so, brand name firms have started to fight back hard. Numerous have retained law firms to target counterfeited goods in any way they can – for instance, 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 method, in the United States. Several of these on line sellers are ordinary individuals hunting to make a few further dollars. And none of them are ready for high-priced lawsuits demanding tens of thousands of dollars in compensation, and potentially requiring tens of thousands of added dollars to employ counsel.
Brand name manufacturers will typically pursue on the internet sellers for 1 of the following causes of action:
A. Trademark Infringement: Section 32(l) of the Lanham Act specifically prohibits the unauthorized use, sale, offering for sale, distribution, or marketing of counterfeit goods. Most state trademark statutes have analogous sections. Trafficking in counterfeit goods is frequently described as “trademark infringement in the 1st degree.”
B. Unfair Competition: Even if a mark is not registered, an action for unfair competitors can be brought to avoid consumer confusion. If the mark is not registered, this may well be the most viable bring about of action.
C. Trademark Dilution: As counterfeiters normally only go after famous marks, most counterfeit situations will allege trademark dilution as well.
D. Copyright Infringement: In many cases, the counterfeiter will duplicate the Brand’s logo, packaging designs, instruction manuals, and so forth. Several of these are registered copyrights.
Commonly, the law firm retained by the brand contacts counterfeit sellers ahead of initiating a lawsuit. If you must acquire such a letter, you require to act promptly to defend your self. Beneath is an action plan that I suggest to consumers.
1. Do not Ignore the Letter. These circumstances will not go away if you ignore them. Rather, the really aggressive firms that brands hire to pursue counterfeiters will file a complaint and raise their demand. And, if you continue to ignore the situation, the brand will acquire a default judgment against you – likely for lots of occasions the harm you would have suffered otherwise.
two. Do not Speak to the Law Firm. If you contact the brand manufactuer’s law firm you are going to speak with an skilled attorney who is going to do almost everything that s/he can to represent her clients. This contains finding admissions from you, which are exceptionally probably to occur. For instance, the attorney may 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 crucial reality for you to determine is regardless 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 significantly larger. In particular, if you are an innocent infringer, the damages that a brand name manufacturer can recover are very limited and could 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 distinct, exactly where actual know-how of counterfeiting is shown, harm awards can quickly exceed a million dollars ($1,000,000).
4. Employ an Lawyer. Given the large quantity of these situations that are now getting pursued by brand name suppliers, several attorneys now offer you cost-effective particular applications to help people and smaller firms resolve these suits. When you employ such an lawyer, preserve in mind that you want an knowledgeable IP lawyer that can actually litigate a case if want be – forget about hiring an lawyer that helped with your will or even 1 that may well have handled the divorce of an individual you know. Ask the lawyer how much encounter s/he has dealing with counterfeit circumstances, and if the attorney has actually litigated trademark troubles. And, of course, ask the attorney how substantially the action is likely to expense if the case is resolved devoid of litigation, and how substantially it is probably to price if the case requirements to be litigated.
5. Have your Lawyer Seek a Demand. Once you know what the brand name manufacturer desires, you and your lawyer can decide the very best strategy to take with your case. In specific, if the demand is low enough, look at paying it or obtaining your lawyer negotiate additional. If the demand is really high, and you are innocent infringer, litigation might be required to lower the brand name manufacturer’s demand. If purchase euros online are not an innocent infringer, litigating a case like this can have disastrous consequences. In particular, the harm award against you can be staggering (and is possibly not dischargeable in bankruptcy), and there is a genuine possibility of criminal enforcement.
If you have received a letter accusing you of trafficking in counterfeit goods, you are undoubtedly below a lot of tension. I hope that the above action program helps you strategy your choice as to how to resolve such a case cautiously and calmly.