Your Responsibility in Avoiding the Sale of Counterfeit Goods
When people think of counterfeiting or sale of counterfeit goods, they often think of money. But you can also counterfeit goods by making them look like a trademarked good and claiming that they are that trademarked good and selling them for profit.
An example of this is selling knockoffs of designer handbags. These bags often carry the logo or emblem from the designer and are sold under the guise that they truly are handbags from that manufacturer.
This is an illegal activity and qualifies as counterfeiting. Arizona law outlines counterfeiting as a serious offense that’s punishable by at least a class 1 misdemeanor.
We’ll guide you in defining what qualifies as counterfeiting and ways to defend yourself if you’re facing charges.
What is counterfeiting
Counterfeiting falls under trademark infringement. Arizona law 44-1453 defines counterfeiting as:
“A person who knowingly and with intent to sell or distribute uses, displays, advertises, distributes, offers for sale, sells or possesses any item that bears a counterfeit mark or any service that is identified by a counterfeit mark.”
To be guilty of counterfeiting, you must be fully aware that the goods are not what you’re representing them to be. Your purpose must be to confuse or swindle the other party into believing that the goods are something that they are not.
Additionally, you should be aware that counterfeiting does not only apply to physical goods. You can be found guilty of counterfeiting digital goods, such as a subscription website that appears to be the same as a real website.
In this case, you might use the actual company logo and a domain that nearly mirrors the company you’re counterfeiting with the end goal of taking people’s money for services you cannot render.
Another situation where you could be guilty of counterfeiting is when you sell items that bear the emblem or logo of another company as a knockoff. So even if the buyer knows they are not the actual goods from that company, you cannot unlawfully use that company’s trademarks for your own financial gain.
Can a knockoff be sold legally in Arizona?
Counterfeit materials and knockoffs are not always interchangeable terms for goods sold. In some cases, you can create a legal knockoff that looks quite similar to what the original manufacturer sells but does not use their logo or trademarked materials in any way.
Using similar patterns or designs is not illegal so long as they are not trademarked designs and you do not misrepresent what the items are. Even if the items don’t carry the exact trademarked designs or logos and you state that they are from that other company, you could still be charged with counterfeiting.
Arizona penalties for counterfeiting materials
Selling counterfeit materials in Arizona is a class 1 misdemeanor. However, these penalties can become more serious based on the circumstances of the crime.
Individuals with previous counterfeiting charges on their record will be guilty of a class 6 felony. Additionally, if the counterfeiting violation includes more than 100 but less than 1,000 items bearing the counterfeit mark, the charge elevates to a class 6 felony.
It’s also a class 6 felony if the retail value for the counterfeit materials is more than $1,000 but less than $10,000.
These charges elevate to a class 5 felony in the following circumstances.
- The perpetrator has two previous counterfeit convictions
- The case involves at least 1,000 items bearing the counterfeit mark
- The counterfeited goods have a value of at least $10,000
If you’re found in possession of counterfeit materials, law enforcement has the right to seize these items. And if you’re found guilty of counterfeiting, law enforcement can turn over the counterfeit goods to the trademark owner or destroy the goods without compensating you in any way.
Misrepresenting goods or services is a serious offense. If you’re facing potential counterfeit charges, you need an Arizona criminal defense attorney. Contact our office immediately for the criminal defense you deserve.