May 15, 2019

New York counterfeiter sentenced to two years in prison

Many people consider counterfeiting to be a victimless crime. The argument often goes that a less-wealthy consumer would never have paid huge sums for a pair of sunglasses/jeans/shoes, and so the high fashion designer has not lost out by the purchase of a knockoff.

Unsurprisingly we disagree with that assessment. Counterfeiting is a scourge on the creative industries that inhibits evolution of design and puts off aspiring designers and creatives. In the digital era one needn't even be prominent or successful to be a victim of copyright infringement or counterfeiting.

One area where there is almost complete agreement on the negativity of counterfeiting is in safety equipment. Enter Raymond Whelan of Cheektowoga, New York. Despite having no technical knowledge of the industry whatsoever, Whelan began importing disassembled counterfeit airbags made to fit Japanese cars.

They arrived disassembled to avoid being detected by border agencies. Whelan then assembled them himself and sold them via his website (the site is now disabled, so we feel comfortable sharing the link).

US authorities made several undercover purchases from Whelan and determined each item that they had purchased to be counterfeit. Whelan imported and sold more than 360 counterfeit airbags, genuine versions of which would have each retailed for around US $650.

Whelan will now serve 2 years in prison.

If you have any questions on the above or your business has been affected by counterfeiters, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or


in: EU/International, Patents

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