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How counterfeiting merchandise can lead to felony charges

Whether it's a jersey for a famous sports team or a high-end purse made by a celebrity designer, chances are you've probably seen a knock-off of a pricey item being sold somewhere else for cheaper. Perhaps you've even been tempted to purchase one of these knock-offs as well.

But despite the allure of a good deal, it's a good idea for shoppers across California, and the nation for that matter, to avoid purchasing knock-offs. That's because counterfeit trademark goods, such as the two items we mentioned above, are considered illegal. The secondary manufacturers may have produced the items without first getting permission from the trademark holder. This is considered a felony here in the United States with steep penalties for violators of the law.

For those who don't know, the Trademark Counterfeiting Act was established in 1984 to combat the growing problem of the production and sale of counterfeit goods. The Act hands down harsh punishments to violators while also bolstering the Lanham Act, which provides remedy to victims through civil action.

So what penalties could an individual face for violating this law? According to 18 U.S.C. § 2320(b), a person could face fines as well as time in prison if convicted under the Act. Fines range depending on the specifics of the case but in general, an individual could face as much as a $2 million fine and up to 10 years in prison.

Because of the seriousness of these penalties, anyone facing criminal charges for counterfeiting trademark goods should call a good criminal defense attorney who understands federal law and has the experience necessary to represent them. Without a lawyer's help, an individual might not be able to put forth the best defense, meaning they could find themselves facing the steep penalties we talked about above.

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