Prison for Trademark Infringement?


Can you go to prison for a trademark infringement?

This is not excluded in Austria and has now actually occurred in the Netherlands. There, for the illegal use of car logos on an online shopping platform - the names and logos of well-known car brands were used "without authorisation" for navigation software on "Marktplaats" - a nine-month prison sentence was imposed by the competent district court of Oberyssel.

 

Usually, in the case of trademark infringement, civil court proceedings are taken. In the case of intentional trademark infringement, however, criminal proceedings can also be initiated. In contrary to the rules in the Netherlands, this is not an offence by official prosecution in Austria, but a so-called offence by private prosecution. This means that in the Netherlands the public prosecutor's office must take action on its own initiative if it becomes aware of a trademark infringement. In Austria, on the other hand, active prosecution by the aggrieved party is required. A court becomes active only upon the request of the trademark owner.

 

Anyone who infringes a trademark in the course of trade is liable to a fine of up to 360 daily rates. Anyone who commits the offence for profit is liable to a custodial sentence of up to two years. If a trademark infringement is committed within a business, the owner or manager of the business shall be punished if he or she did not prevent the infringement committed by an employee or agent. Employees or agents who in turn have committed the acts by order of their employer or principal are not to be punished if they could not reasonably be expected to refuse to commit the act because of their economic dependence.


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