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Selling fake items online has serious penalties

Online marketplaces have made shopping easy for consumers. People can search for almost any good or service they need and find a supplier. For some people, that easy access has led them to try to capitalize on the money flowing around on the Internet. In some cases, people might sell knock-off merchandise.

Selling fakes online might not seem like a huge deal; however, the law takes selling fakes seriously. People who have been accused of selling fakes online can face criminal and civil penalties.

In order for a fake to be considered a counterfeit, it has to be used to sell goods or services, be likely to confuse the public in a way that encourages a purchase and has a trademark very similar or identical to the original. Counterfeit marks can run afoul of the Trademark Counterfeiting Act of 1984. If these marks meet the criteria set forth in this act, the person selling the items or services can be prosecuted.

It is important to realize that not all counterfeited items are treated alike when it comes to the penalties imposed if a person is convicted under the act. Generally, items that are considered safety sensitive receive harsher penalties than other products. That means that a fake Gucci handbag would likely lead to a lighter sentence than a fake drug.

If you have been accused of selling fakes online and are facing charges, you need to get started on your defense right away. Understanding the defense strategy options for your case might help you to get a plan for your defense formulated.

Source: FindLaw, "Selling Fakes Online," accessed Aug. 06, 2015

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