Intellectual Property Crimes

By Gidseg, Randy; Santorelli, Bridget et al. | American Criminal Law Review, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

Intellectual Property Crimes


Gidseg, Randy, Santorelli, Bridget, Walsh, Elizabeth, Wells, Greg, American Criminal Law Review


I. INTRODUCTION

Owners of intellectual property are able to protect their rights by pursuing civil remedies. Yet the possibility of civil sanctions alone is insufficient to deter violators who steal trade secrets or infringe on others' trademarks, copyrights, or patents.(1) Indeed, some intellectual property thieves view civil damage actions as just another cost of doing business. It has been estimated that the theft of intellectual property rights in the United States cost over $300 billion dollars in 1997 alone, with high technology corporations most frequently targeted.(2)

The lack of deterrence associated with civil mechanisms led the federal government and most states to enact statutes designed to prevent the theft of intellectual property rights. These are often general statutes which can be interpreted to offer protection to the intellectual property at issue. Other statutes are specifically tailored to the type of intellectual property for which protection is sought. These latter provisions are used with increasing frequency to deter and punish perpetrators.

This article examines several areas of intellectual property law under which criminal prosecutions are brought. Section II covers the theft of trade secrets, while Section III discusses trademark counterfeiting. Next, Section IV addresses copyright infringement. Section V examines the new problems raised by online servers, while Section VI looks at patents and Section VII at art crimes. Finally, Section VIII discusses sentencing for intellectual property crimes.

II. THEFT OF TRADE SECRETS

Prior to the enactment of the Economic Espionage Act, addressed in Part A, no federal criminal statute dealt directly with the theft of intangible trade secrets. Parts B through E of this Section will cover alternative statutes federal prosecutors have used in the past, with limited success, to penalize the misappropriation of trade secrets. These include the National Stolen Property Act, the Trade Secrets Act, the Mail and Wire Fraud statutes, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Finally, Part F describes state provisions used to combat trade secret theft.

A. Economic Espionage Act of 1996

In October 1996, discouraged by the failure of civil remedies to prevent trade secret theft, the inability of prosecutors to effectively use other criminal statutes, and the frequent efforts by foreign governments to obtain trade secrets from American companies, Congress made the theft of trade secrets a federal crime with the enactment of the Economic Espionage Act ("EEA").(3) The EEA established two criminal offenses under which governments can prosecute trade secret theft. The first offense, "economic espionage," arises only when the theft benefits a foreign government.(4) This carries higher penalties than the second offense, "theft of trade secrets," which is broader and generally concerns all trade secret theft.(5)

1. Definition of Trade Secret

The EEA defines trade secrets to include "all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information ... whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, compiled, or memorialized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically, or in writing.... "(6)Although substantially similar to the trade secret definition in the civil Uniform Trade Secrets Act ("UTSA"),(7) the definition in the EEA is broader in an effort to modernize the law and "keep pace with growing technology, especially in the computer and information storage sectors."(8)

In order to protect property that is considered a trade secret, the owner of the property must take reasonable measures to keep it secret.(9) Additionally, the economic value of the information must be derived from the general public's lack of knowledge about it or the public's inability to readily access it through proper means.(10) This provision imposes a higher standard of self-protection on the owner of a trade secret than on owners of other types of property. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Intellectual Property Crimes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.