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Online trademark infringement and its California penalties

The Internet has become a marketplace that rivals the physical world. The number of online merchants and the variety of products available online is astounding. California retailers and those reselling goods can find themselves in a strong financial position by utilizing this market. But, they can also find themselves in hot legal water, particularly when allegations of selling fake products arise.

Many of the world's most successful companies have spent years and millions of dollars building their brand. Just about everyone is aware of Apple and Nike. Consumers rely on slogans and logos to find those products, but when those logos and slogans are misused, or are alleged to have been misused, criminal charges may be levied against those who are selling such products. Wrongfully using these marks, if they are registered with the federal government, is known as trademark infringement.

The penalties for trademark infringement reflect just how serious the government is about protecting consumers and the open market. An individual convicted of trademark infringement may be fined up to $2 million. On top of that, a convicted individual may be hit with up to 10 years in prison. Those who are repeat offenders can see fines of up to $5 million and prison sentences of up to 20 years.

Therefore, those who sell goods online should take care that their products are not misrepresented. Yet, even honest individuals can wind up facing allegations of criminal wrongdoing. So, those facing accusations related to Internet crimes should consider their criminal defense options, which could mean speaking with an attorney who can help them better assess what actions would help support their best interests.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Selling Fakes Online," accessed on Aug. 31, 2015

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