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Intellectual Property Crimes

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 49 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2012 Pages: 929-984
Ben Shiffman; Danielle Goldman; Lauren Pomeroy
Date Published
56 pages
This article's explanation of several areas of intellectual property law that are used in criminal prosecutions focuses on statutes that address the theft of trade secrets, trademark counterfeiting, copyright violations, patent violations, and cable television and satellite descrambling.
The Federal statutes used to counter the theft of trade secrets include the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, the National Stolen Property Act, the Trade Secrets Act, mail and wire fraud statutes, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and State law provisions. Trademark counterfeiting is prosecuted under the Trademark Counterfeiting Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), as well as money laundering acts. Copyright infringements are prosecuted under the Copyright Act, mail and wire fraud statutes, RICO, database protection, and State law provisions. A separate section of the article addresses criminal violations of the Copyright Felony Act by online servers. The article's section on patent infringements discusses criminal liability for false patent marking, counterfeiting and forging of letters patent, and whether the National Stolen Property Act applies to patent infringement. The forging of letters patent refers to the forging, counterfeiting, or altering of any patent, as well as persons knowingly passing, uttering, or publishing as genuine any such patent. The article's section on cable television and satellite descrambling discusses the application of Federal criminal wiretap laws to cable television and satellite descrambling. Eighteen U.S.C. section 2512(1)(a)1 makes it illegal for any person to possess intentionally, send through the mail, assemble, or sell a device with the knowledge that it is primarily useful for surreptitiously circumventing; unscrambling; or intercepting wire, oral, and electronic communications placed in interstate commerce. The article's concluding section addresses the provisions of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines applicable to the statutes discussed throughout the article. 444 notes