Criminal Law

Counterfeiting and Infringement of Copyright or Trademark - Basic Economic Offenses

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November 1, 2005GUIDELINES MANUAL§2B5.3

sum of all calculations made for those items under subdivisions (A) and (B) of this Application Note. For example, if the defendant sold both counterfeit videotapes that are identical in quality to the infringed videotapes and obviously inferior counterfeit handbags, the infringement amount, for purposes of subsection (b)(1), is the sum of the infringement amount calculated with respect to the counterfeit videotapes under subdivision (A)(i) (i.e., the quantity of the infringing videotapes multiplied by the retail value of the infringed videotapes) and the infringement amount calculated with respect to the counterfeit handbags under subdivision (B) (i.e., the quantity of the infringing handbags multiplied by the retail value of the infringing handbags).

(E) Indeterminate Number of Infringing Items.—In a case in which the court cannot determine the number of infringing items, the court need only make a reasonable estimate of the infringement amount using any relevant information, including financial records.

3. Application of §3B1.3.—If the defendant de-encrypted or otherwise circumvented a technological security measure to gain initial access to an infringed item, an adjustment under §3B1.3 (Abuse of Position of Trust or Use of Special Skill) shall apply.

4. Upward Departure Considerations.—If the offense level determined under this guideline substantially understates the seriousness of the offense, an upward departure may be warranted. The following is a non-exhaustive list of factors that the court may consider in determining whether an upward departure may be warranted:

(A) The offense involved substantial harm to the reputation of the copyright or trademark owner.

(B) The offense was committed in connection with, or in furtherance of, the criminal activities of a national, or international, organized criminal enterprise.

Background: This guideline treats copyright and trademark violations much like theft and fraud. Similar to the sentences for theft and fraud offenses, the sentences for defendants convicted of intellectual property offenses should reflect the nature and magnitude of the pecuniary harm caused by their crimes. Accordingly, similar to the loss enhancement in the theft and fraud guideline, the infringement amount in subsection (b)(1) serves as a principal factor in determining the offense level for intellectual property offenses.

Subsection (b)(1) implements section 2(g) of the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act of 1997, Pub. L. 105–147, by using the retail value of the infringed item, multiplied by the number of infringing items, to determine the pecuniary harm for cases in which use of the retail value of the infringed item is a reasonable estimate of that harm. For cases referred to in Application Note 2(B), the Commission determined that use of the retail value of the infringed item would overstate the pecuniary harm or otherwise be inappropriate. In these types of cases, use of the retail value of the infringing item, multiplied by the number of those items, is a more reasonable estimate of the resulting pecuniary harm.

Section 2511 of title 18, United States Code, as amended by the Electronic Communications Act of 1986, prohibits the interception of satellite transmission for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain. Such violations are similar to copyright offenses and are therefore covered by this guideline.

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