Criminal Law

Counterfeiting and Infringement of Copyright or Trademark - Basic Economic Offenses

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§2B5.1GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005


Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 470-474A, 476, 477, 500, 501, 1003. For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Notes:

1. Definitions.—For purposes of this guideline:

"Distinctive counterfeit deterrent" and "distinctive paper" have the meaning given those terms in 18 U.S.C. § 474A(c)(2) and (1), respectively.

"United States" means each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.

2. Applicability to Counterfeit Bearer Obligations of the United States.— This guideline applies to counterfeiting of United States currency and coins, food stamps, postage stamps, treasury bills, bearer bonds and other items that generally could be described as bearer obligations of the United States, i.e., that are not made out to a specific payee.

3. Inapplicability to Genuine but Fraudulently Altered Instruments.—"Counterfeit," as used in this section, means an instrument that purports to be genuine but is not, because it has been falsely made or manufactured in its entirety. Offenses involving genuine instruments that have been altered are covered under §2B1.1 (Theft, Property Destruction, and Fraud).

4. Inapplicability to Certain Obviously Counterfeit Items.—Subsection (b)(2)(A) does not apply to persons who produce items that are so obviously counterfeit that they are unlikely to be accepted even if subjected to only minimal scrutiny.

Background: Possession of counterfeiting devices to copy obligations (including securities) of the United States is treated as an aggravated form of counterfeiting because of the sophistication and planning involved in manufacturing counterfeit obligations and the public policy interest in protecting the integrity of government obligations. Similarly, an enhancement is provided for a defendant who produces, rather than merely passes, the counterfeit items.

Subsection (b)(4) implements, in a broader form, the instruction to the Commission in section 110512 of Public Law 103-322.

Historical Note:: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective January 15, 1988 (see Appendix C, amendment 16); November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendment 115); November 1, 1995 (see Appendix C, amendment 513); November 1, 1997 (see Appendix C, amendment 554); November 1, 1998 (see Appendix C, amendment 587); November 1, 2000 (see Appendix C, amendments 595 and 605); November 1, 2001 (see Appendix C, amendments 617 and 618).

§2B5.2. [Deleted]

Historical Note:: Section 2B5.2 (Forgery; Offenses Involving Altered or Counterfeit Instruments Other than Counterfeit Bearer Obligations of the United States), effective November 1, 1987, amended effective January 15, 1988 (see Appendix C, amendment 17) and November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendment 116), was deleted by consolidation with §2F1.1 effective November 1, 1993 (see Appendix C, amendment 481).

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