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Intellectual Property Crimes

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 46 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2009 Pages: 761-812
Joseph W. Cormier; Richard Kozell; Jessica L. McCurdy
Date Published
51 pages
This article examines several areas of intellectual property law, including the theft of trade secrets, trademark counterfeiting, copyright infringement, patent violations, and cable television and satellite descrambling.
Federal statutes intended to counter the theft of trade secrets include the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA), which provides for criminal as well as civil penalties against the theft of trade secrets, as well as the National Stolen Property Act, which prohibits transporting, transmitting, or transferring in interstate or foreign commerce any goods, wares, merchandise, securities, or money valued at $5,000 or more, knowing it to have been stolen, converted, or taken by fraud. Other Federal statutes that counter the theft of trade secrets are mail and wire fraud statutes, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Money Laundering Act, and laws that provide protection for databases. Laws that counter trademark counterfeiting are the Trademark Counterfeiting Act (TCA), RICO, and money laundering acts. The TCA criminalizes the intentional trafficking of counterfeit goods or services. Like the theft of trade secrets, trademark counterfeiting is also illegal under RICO and the money laundering statute. The article’s section on copyright discusses the Federal Copyright Act, focusing on the elements of the criminal copyright infringement offense, affirmative defenses to prosecution under the law, and the ramifications of "reverse engineering" (process of breaking down a protected work to its component and nonprotected parts from which a similar product is created). Other laws under which copyright infringements may be prosecuted are also reviewed, followed by reviews of laws pertinent to patents and the descrambling of cable television and satellite signals. The article concludes with a discussion of sentencing under some of the laws discussed. 426 notes