News Release

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
Washington, DC 20002-8002

For Immediate Release:
August 31, 2006

Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Affairs Officer
(202) 502-4597


WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 31, 2006) — In response to the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act (the “Act”), the United States Sentencing Commission voted unanimously yesterday to promulgate an emergency amendment to the sentencing guideline for criminal infringement of copyright or trademark. The Act directed the Commission to review and, if appropriate, amend the sentencing guidelines applicable to persons convicted of an offense under either 18 U.S.C. § 2318 (trafficking in counterfeit labels) or 18 U.S.C. § 2320 (trafficking in counterfeit goods or services).

The guideline amendment addresses the way in which the court determines an offense’s “infringement amount,” which is a factor used in calculating the magnitude of a sentencing enhancement to be applied in these cases. The amendment clarifies that, in cases in which counterfeit labels are not affixed to goods, the “infringement amount” is based on the retail value of the genuine goods that the counterfeit label would help imitate if the counterfeit goods appear to be identifiable, genuine goods.

For example, in a case in which an offender trafficked counterfeit tags to be used on designer purses, in determining the guideline sentencing enhancement, the infringement amount would be based on the value of the genuine designer purses, if they can be identified and would appear to a reasonably informed purchaser to be genuine.

The emergency guideline amendment takes effect September 12, 2006, and the Commission will continue its review of the criminal infringement of copyright and trademark guideline during its 2006-2007 amendment cycle. For the emergency amendment to be made permanent, the amendment must be re-promulgated on or before May 1, 2007.

The full text of the proposed changes to the sentencing guidelines and issues for comment are available on the Commission’s web site at

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines structure the courts’ sentencing discretion to help ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive similar sentences.

United States Sentencing Commission: