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Federal Intellectual Property Theft Attorney

July 11, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

What is Intellectual Property Theft?

According to federal law, intellectual property theft is the illicit taking and distribution (commonly  for personal financial gain) of ideas, inventions, and creative expressions.  Everything from trade secrets to proprietary property (for example, music and film) has been covered under this federal crime. Especially with the explosive growth of the internet and digital file sharing, intellectual property theft and internet piracy are major targets for aggressive federal prosecution.

Federal Piracy Charges

In the event that you or a loved one is under investigation for, or facing charges of piracy or of intellectual property theft, you will need an experienced federal criminal attorney as quickly as possible. Convictions for these offenses often result in massive consequences, including massive fines and extensive incarceration.

Intellectual Property Theft as a Federal Offense

Pursuant to the FBI’s data, intellectual property theft costs U.S. businesses in the billions of dollars every year, while robbing jobs and tax revenues. It is for these reasons, and many others, that the FBI criminal division energetically investigates and prosecutes alleged offenders. Furthermore, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center collaborates with more than 21 different federal agencies to curtail this crime. Intellectual property theft is considered a federal crime in cases of:

  • Copyright infringement — Infringement for commercial purposes can result in a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment in cases where it involves 10 copies or more with a retail value of $2,500 or more. In cases where there is no financial gain, the defendant could be looking at one year in prison if he/she distributed any quantity of copies having a retail value of $1,000 or more. A defendant could be facing three years in prison if he/she distributed any number of copies that have a retail value of $2,500 or more.
  • Trade secret theft — In keeping with the Economic Espionage Act, offenders can face up to 10 years behind bars for stealing trade secrets involved in interstate commerce.
  • Trademark counterfeiting — Pursuant to the Trademark Counterfeiting Act, offenders who, with knowledge of what they are doing, traffic goods carrying a counterfeit trademark may be looking at up to 10 years imprisonment.

Bear in mind that there are numerous other forms of intellectual property theft. The potential repercussions, and legislation governing the instances of theft, depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense.

More About Internet Piracy

You can source almost anything online.  You can get music, movies, novels, poems, and many other kinds of entertainment, artistic productions,software, and so on. Piracy is not as flagrant as other kinds of computer crimes.  In fact, law-abiding citizens can readily come across copyrighted media. Nevertheless, individuals who consciously distribute copyrighted material, and make this material accessible by the public without the permission of the rightful owner, can face up to three years imprisonment if convicted. If a person commits piracy for monetary gain, then he/she could be looking at up to five years behind bars.

Other Forms of Intellectual Property Theft

Intellectual property theft can take numerous shapes. With the proliferation of digital technologies, federal prosecutors frequently come across new methods of and uses for piracy and intellectual property theft.  As such, federal agents are consistently working to keep abreast of various schemes. A few other forms of intellectual property theft can include:

  • Counterfeit drug trafficking — For the crime of counterfeiting drugs or certain kinds of military goods and services, you may be looking at up to 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
  • Counterfeit labeling — For producing counterfeit labels, packaging or  documentation you could be facing as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
  • Pre-Release Criminal Copyright Infringement — For the crime of pre-release piracy, you could be sentenced up to three years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
  • Recording Movies in Theaters — For the act of recording movies playing in public theaters, you could be sentenced to as much as three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Possible Defenses Against Intellectual Property Theft Charges

Whether you learn that you’re under investigation for intellectual property theft, or you’ve already been arrested, a well informed federal crimes attorney will be one of your most valuable assets to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Even though the specific defense that your attorney will employ will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, there are several common defenses that have generally proved successful in the past. Here are a few defenses that are effective:

  1. Demonstrating lack of intent — Convincing the court that the defendant did not knowingly try to steal any property.
  2. Show a lack of ownership rights by the plaintiff — Demonstrating that the material in question was not under the protection of intellectual property laws.
  3. Claiming fair use — Argue that the defendant utilized the copyright material for an educational purpose (this defense is often highly complex, but it can work)

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