Skip to main content

What constitutes a counterfeit DVD (does the use of certain trademarks - "DVD", "DOLBY" illegally render a DVD a "counterfeit?"

City Of Industry, CA |

A local wholesaler of DVDs, CDs, whom I have purchased goods from in the past, is being investigated by ICE for selling "counterfeit goods" - apparently due to the unlicensed use of the "Dolby" logo on his products. I have DVDs purchased from different distributors (for resale) that show the "Dolby" logo, how do I know which is properly licensed or not? Are my DVDs (resale) considered counterfeit if trademarks on its cover are determined to be illegally used?

Attorney Answers 2

  1. Dolby Digital is the name for audio compression technologies developed by Dolby Laboratories. Dolby Digital itself is U.S. federally registered trademark (Reg. No. 2484193) owned by the same company. Makers of DVDs and/or CDs are not permitted to use said trademark without proper license from the trademark owner. You should always check your sources of goods to make sure they have signed proper license from all trademark owners whose marks are printed on them. Those goods will be considered counterfeit if trademarks on them are not duly licensed.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice or form any attorney-client relationship. This is a general legal education material subject to change of applicable laws and each individual case situation. You should not rely upon it without consulting your own legal counsel.

  2. As my colleague noted, the Dolby logo is a federally registered trademark and is protected under trademark law. Dolby sound is associated with high quality--thus, it would not surprise me if someone who was producing counterfeit DVD's or CD's would wrongly use this trademark on the counterfeit versions. By the way, Dolby is not in the business of creating films, records or music videos--it is in the business of providing quality sound.

    When you purchase DVD's or CD's for resale from a wholesale, you have a legal duty to take steps to assure that the goods are not counterfeit. That means that you need to verify that the source from whom you purchase these goods is legitimate. If you purchase large quantities of goods from any single wholesale, it would be entirely reasonable for you to request copies of records showing that the wholesale purchased the goods from legitimate sources---indeed, in order to comply with the law it is incumbent upon you in most circumstances to make such requests. Since the wholesaler from whom you purchased these DVD's and CD's is under investigation, you should not resell them until the investigation is cleared up----otherwise you could be accused of knowingly reselling counterfeit goods. Further, depending on the facts and circumstances, you might want to voluntarily come forward to ICE and cooperate with the investigation by turning over the counterfeit goods to it. I would not do this, however, without retaining counsel to represent you and represent your interests in discussions with ICE.

    Most importantly, do not rely on the general advice that you receive on Avvo to determine how you should proceed. If you have been purchasing goods from this wholesaler for a while, then it is quite possible that you could become a target of this investigation. In any event, you should retain counsel to represent you in this matter. Selling---or reselling---counterfeit goods is illegal and can lead to civil and criminal penalties. You need to retain legal counsel in your local area to guide you through this situation---if you do not handle this correctly it can become a very big headache for you.