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Piracy, counterfeiting and the infringement of intellectual property threaten the U.S. economy, American businesses, and the safety of American consumers. Businesses face unfair competitive disadvantages when counterfeit goods enter their supply chains since these products undermine the validity of their patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Counterfeits are often manufactured cheaply in unsanitary and uncontrolled conditions, failing to meet standard regulations. This poses a threat to consumers as well, since fake products likely do not have the integrity of the products they are imitating. 

In 2016, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized approximately 31,560 shipments containing products violating Intellectual Property Rights, increasing 9 percent from 2015. These seized goods are valued at roughly $1.38 billion had they been sold at the values of the authentic products. This also resulted in 451 arrests and 272 convictions.

The largest source of the seized counterfeit goods is the People’s Republic of China, responsible for $616 million of the total value. Hong Kong was second, responsible for $600 million.

Proliferation through Online Sales

The increase in counterfeit shipments into the U.S. can largely be attributed to the facilitation by social media platforms and popular e-commerce sites, such as Amazon, the sixth most valuable company in the U.S. Although not deliberately promoting fake commodities, Amazon expedited overseas counterfeit products when they registered with the Federal Maritime Commission to provide ocean freight, streamlining Chinese shipments directly to Amazon fulfillment centers.

Despite having an anti-counterfeiting policy, Amazon is not legally responsible for keeping counterfeit products off their website. Instead, sellers must actively report fake goods to Amazon before Amazon will suspend the sale. Amazon has historically refrained from excessively intervening, allowing their basic guidelines to dictate the composition of the goods sold on their website. However, in November 2016, Amazon took their first step in combatting intellectual property violations, when they issued a number of lawsuits against vendors selling counterfeit products on their website. This is great news for legitimate vendors who have had to compete in the Amazon market against identical and illegal products sold at lower prices.

What Constitutes a Criminal Intellectual Property Rights Violation?

Although not every violation to intellectual property is considered criminal, criminal sanctions are often warranted to punish and deter violation of intellectual property rights. Offenses include:

  • Intentionally trafficking goods or services knowingly using a counterfeit mark
  • Intentionally infringing a copyright
  • Counterfeiting labels
  • Stealing trade secrets

Because violations of intellectual property rights do not often involve a loss of assets and generally don’t require direct involvement with rights holders, these rights holders often are unaware that they are victims until an alleged infringer’s activities are specifically brought to their attention. Congress has expanded and strengthened criminal laws for the above violations to provide adequate protection for owners of intellectual property.

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Starting a new business can be a bit scary. Aside from worries of failure, there’s also the hassle of making sure all legal paperwork are properly filed. I reached out to Mr. Wang (Tommy) because of his excellent reviews and reputation and I am so glad I did. He was thorough and meticulous in answering all of my concerns and took time to find out special laws and policies regarding the kind of business I am starting. I could focus on the daily practical side of starting my new office without worry because I felt Tommy was reliable and took my case seriously. My business is opened and it’s all been a smooth start because of Tommy’s help. I have plans to start another business venture in the next few years and I already know I’ll be coming back to Wang IP Law.

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I came to Tommy for help reviewing a licensing agreement I had secured with a well-known manufacturer. Tommy made sure I understood all the details in the contract and he negotiated with the company to improve my side of the deal. I mentioned to Tommy at my first consultation that we were looking to expand throughout the US and were investing a lot of money to make a big entrance into the market. I did not think I would have my store open so soon but Tommy also has connections with the local area and realtors to help me secure the location for my first store in the Los Angeles area. Tommy works a lot with the local businesses and he understands how to transition from the Asian market to US market. Within 8 months my store was open for business and fully operating. I must recommend Tommy to any business owners looking for help with contracts and improving their side of the deal. Tommy has the knowledge and experience to make sure there is a smooth process to open for business here, and make sure that your company is set up for success.


I think Tommy and his team by far considered the best people to work with in my 16 business years. Beside quick responses to all my inquiries, they also done things right and providing very professional solutions. I’m highly recommending Tommy and his firm to all business owners.

Calvin C.

I have been working on my Utility Patent for almost 4 years. I have hired and fired two very reputable IP firms because with all their expertise and reputation for being some of the top firms in IP Law, I felt a lack of connection and care in my product, time and financial investment. Then I found Tommy and his team. Tommy does not waste time. He and his team are professional and extremely thorough. After 4 years, I finally found a legal team that I felt spent the time to really understand the components of my utility patent. Tommy also very mindful of cost and how and where my money would be better spent. I really feel I am in great hands with Tommy and his team. They have been patient with my revisions. And most importantly, they made me feel that they fully understood the importance this patent is to me. It has been a great and comforting pleasure working with Tommy.


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