U.S. Department of Justice - CyberCrime.gov Archived

Copyright Cases - U.S. v. Mitchell (N.D. Cal.) (Internet Auction Sales)

February 4, 2003

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Northern District of California
11th Floor, Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue,
Box 36055
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 436-7200
Fax: (415) 436-7234

Florida Man Sentenced for Selling Counterfeit Software Labels on Auction Web Sites

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California announced that Joseph Edwin Mitchell was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison for trafficking in counterfeit labels for copies of computer programs. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge James Ware following a guilty plea to 10 counts in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2318. Mr. Mitchell, 45, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, was indicted by a federal grand jury on January 9, 2002. He was charged with 10 counts of trafficking in counterfeit labels for copies of computer programs in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2318 and one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit labels for copies of computer programs in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2318 and to commit criminal copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(b)(1). There was no plea agreement in this case. On July 8, 2002, Mr. Mitchell pleaded guilty to the 10 counts of trafficking in counterfeit labels for copies of computer programs. Mr. Mitchell admitted that he trafficked in counterfeit labels for copies of computer programs and committed criminal copyright infringement. Specifically, Mr. Mitchell sold infringing copies of Autodesk Incorporated and other companies’ computer aided design (CAD) software on Internet auction websites, including eBay, Yahoo, Up4sale, Ubid, and Lycos. In so doing, he used counterfeit labels for copies of many of the computer programs which he sold. He sold copies of software from a number of companies, including Autodesk, Alias Wavefront, and Side Effects Software. Autodesk was his best selling software. The defendant .burned. copies of software he received from other persons on his home computer. He had been warned via e-mail on numerous occasions by auction websites that he was not allowed to sell the software he was selling, and several of his auction accounts were shut down by the website operators at eBay and Yahoo. Mr. Mitchell also received warnings from Autodesk. Nonetheless, he continued to sell infringing software with counterfeit labels. He also diverted customers’ orders and payments to another person’s post office box in an effort to avoid angry customers, Autodesk, and law enforcement from knowing his true address. He also utilized the business name .J.M. Enterprises. and other names with the initials .J.M.. in order to conceal his identity. The other person referred to above collected money orders received in the post office box for him, and forwarded them periodically to him via U.S. mail. Judge Ware sentenced the Defendant to 46 months in federal prison, restitution totaling $1,943, 404 ($1,520,404 to Autodesk, $304,000 to Alias Wavefront, and $119,000 to Side Effects Software), $1,000 in special penalty assessments, as well as a three year period of supervised release. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on April 23, 2003.. This prosecution was the result of a joint investigation by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Ross W. Nadel, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case with the assistance of Lauri Gomez and Brenda Hodgen. A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can. Related court documents and information may be found on the District Court website at www.cand.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.cand.uscourts.gov.

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross W. Nadel at (408) 535-5035 or Matthew J. Jacobs at (415) 436-7181.


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