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Slow wheels of justice

Though the Chargers have abandoned San Diego, interest in football remains high here. So it was with some interest that we read recently of an intellectual property dispute involving a northern California man and the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers and Giants.

The 50-year-old recently pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking goods that bore the counterfeit trademarks of professional sports franchises in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League. One of the more remarkable aspects of the case is when it began: all the way back in August of 2013.

It was back then that the Sacramento Intellectual Property Task Force was apparently alerted to the man’s sales of hats, shirts and other items bearing the counterfeit logos. Undercover agents then went to a warehouse and a flea market where he reportedly sold the goods and made purchases worth several hundred dollars.

It might have made more sense for the owners of those sports teams to have pursued a trademark infringement lawsuit and awards that could have included his profits, their damages (lost sales of their trademark-protected gear), costs (attorneys’ fees and court costs) and injunctive relief (an order preventing him from future sales of the counterfeit items).

As it was, the man was served with a cease-and-desist notice, which he agreed to observe. However, just three weeks after he signed the agreement, he was again selling the products. In January of 2016, he was indicted. According to a news article, he was slated to go on trial in June of this year.

It’s clear that the wheels of justice can turn very slowly.

If you or your company want to defend your intellectual property, contact an attorney experienced in California trademark litigation.