The 2023 Crippy’s – The IP Criminals Hall of Fame
In Brief: As we leave 2023 behind, it’s time to acknowledge those who achieved infamy in the world of Intellectual Property.
HONORABLE MENTION GOES TO: The People’s Republic of China. According to a press release in August 2023, China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate prosecuted 11,675 people for Intellectual Property crimes in the first half of 2023. The majority of the crimes were for trademark infringement covering a wide range of counterfeit products. Second was copyright infringement. Third was trade secret misappropriation. Prosecutions were up 89.9% from 2022.
FIRST RUNNER UP GOES TO: Adam Klein a/k/a Amit Klein. Mr. Klein took stalking his former girlfriend (whom we will refer to as “Jane”) to a new level by also abusing the trademark registration system. He harassed Jane by registering domain names and creating harassing websites using their relationship nickname. He posted harassing Instagram posts etc. When Jane started a new business under her nickname and she filed an application to register the name as a trademark. Mr. Klein saw this as a new weapon in his pattern of harassment. Mr. Klein sent her a letter telling her that he already was seeking a trademark registration using her name in connection with “Sex toys, namely Jewelry”. Mr. Klein invited her to “propose an agreement” otherwise he’ll contest her trademark application and keep her in litigation for a long time. Meanwhile, the USPTO wasn’t about to be used as a tool of harassment. The Examining Attorney issued an Office Action refusing registration for numerous reasons, including that Mr. Klein needed Jane’s consent to use her name. After the application was deemed abandoned, Mr. Klein requested reconsideration. He got a scathing rebuke from the USPTO for using the USPTO as a tool for harassment. By the way, Jane obtained two stalking injunctions and the second one was affirmed on appeal (yes, Mr. Klein appealed it!).
GRAND PRIZE GOES TO: Jose Teran. Over the course of 2 years, Teran fraudulently claimed rights 50,000 songs owned by mostly Latin artists and collected $23 million in royalty proceeds. Teran and his fellow defendant, Webster Batista, created a record label and then claimed ownership of songs on YouTube. They took advantage of artists who didn’t hire rights management consultants to monitor the use of their works. Once Teran and Batista figured out which artists were vulnerable this way, they swooped in and claimed to own the songs. If an artist discovered the fraud, Teran would refuse to back down or acknowledge the rightful owner. After being found guilty of this massive fraud, Teran was sentenced to 70 months in prison. The government is now attempting to find the victims so that they can share in restitution of $1.4 million.
Why You Should Know This. The Crippys are a reminder that those committing crimes involving IP will be held accountable.