Los Angeles, California - A Lompoc man has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of trafficking in counterfeit goods for using two websites to market and sell counterfeit versions of Adobe software, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jeffrey Scott Patterson, 52, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court. In his plea agreement and during his Monday court appearance, Patterson admitted that, over the course of approximately eight years, he used two websites to advertise and sell counterfeit Adobe software at prices below retail. The software Patterson sold – sometimes under the assumed name “Bruce Allen” – included Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Creative Suite.
“Protecting the business community’s intellectual property from being stolen is an important aspect of protecting our nation’s economy,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime, and all consumers end up paying the costs associated with the theft of intellectual property.”
Patterson offered victims either a digital download or a CD version of the pirated Adobe software. To bypass Adobe’s security protocols, Patterson altered the software and used a “key generator” to give his customers a counterfeit “key code” that must be entered by a user when the software is installed on a computer. Many of the counterfeit key codes failed to work, which prompted numerous complaints to Abode and Patterson.
As part of the investigation, HSI special agents made two undercover purchases at about half of the full retail price – one for Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional and one for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium. Records obtained by HSI showed that Patterson generated well over $500,000 in sales over the course of his scheme.
“As this case makes clear, law enforcement is using every tool available to keep intellectual property thieves from profiting from others’ products, creativity, and ideas,” said Mark Selby, deputy special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “Simply put, product counterfeiting amounts to economic sabotage and HSI will move aggressively to target those who get rich at the expense of those businesses that play by the rules.”
The charge of trafficking in counterfeit goods carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
Patterson is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez June 27.