What are the most common penalties for counterfeiting?
At DH Anticounterfeit, we help you track down counterfeiters, but of course we can’t directly influence on the penalties that any offenders may receive. However, we’re using this blog post to try and make a strong appeal that simply not enough is being done to stop counterfeiters.
What do laws say about counterfeit?
In many countries, maximum hypothetical penalties can actually be quite harsh. In the U.S.A, for example, counterfeiting can result in a fine of $250,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Similarly, in the UK a person can be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
Yet, Britain is still considered to be the world’s biggest hub for counterfeit imports, and the reason for this is that severe penalties are rarely handed out. When counterfeiters are sent to jail, it is usually for a few months or so, with corresponding fines amounting to a few thousand dollars.
This approach clearly isn’t working. The internet has allowed counterfeiting to become a much more organised and efficient practice. It’s virtually impossible to catch all the counterfeiters out there, which is why the ones that are caught need to be given a sentence that reflects the message that this practice is not acceptable in any way.
There are a few cases out there that show governments successfully striking down hard on counterfeiters, and we think these stories should be used as benchmarks for future offences. Let’s get into a couple of these below.
Take the case of Joshua Shores of Bel Air, Maryland. Joshua was caught for operating a group of internet sports memorabilia businesses that collectively amounted to $2.5 million worth of fraudulent items. Not only were the items counterfeit – many of them even had forged signatures!
Luckily, Joshua was certainly not treated like a Prince of Bel Air in the courts and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
A similar case is that of Kurt Michael Krol, who was sentenced to six years in prison for trafficking counterfeit electronics between 2012 and 2015. These items were mainly counterfeit products of the electronics accessory company Otterbox, and indeed Krol’s company was obliged to pay $200,000 to Otterbox as consolation. However, Krol also imported counterfeit items of other brands including L’Oreal, Conair, Phillips, and others.
In addition to his prison sentence, Krol had to forfeit all counterfeit articles, over $200,000 from multiple bank accounts and two residences.
Outside of America
There are numerous cases all over the world that reflect the kind of penalties that should be enforced in instances of counterfeit, but we’re going to turn to one specific example from Cambodia. This case is really intriguing to us because it’s about the Cambodian government taking its own initiative to crack down on counterfeit products.
The result was the discovery of over 70 tons of counterfeit beauty products, worth millions of dollars. As consequence, several people, including owners of manufacturing plants, were put into detention, prison, and charged with a wide range of crimes related to counterfeit.
A final appeal
These case studies show impressive success stories in which the rights of brands were safeguarded and counterfeiters were given the harsh penalties they deserved.
Although plenty of other similar stories exist, these are still not enough to reduce the overwhelming number of counterfeit operations that still exist today. If we want to battle this huge problem, the penalties need to be huge as well.