Four Men Convicted in Online Auction Piracy Initiative
WASHINGTON – Four more defendants pleaded guilty in Milwaukee to selling copyrighted software, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic for the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced today.
Eric Neil Barber of Manila, Ark.; Phillip Buchanan of Hampton, Ga.; Wendell Jay Davis of Las Vegas; and Craig J. Svetska, of West Chicago, Ill., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller, to selling counterfeit Rockwell Automation computer software over the Internet in violation of criminal copyright infringement laws. The software sold by the four defendants had a combined retail value of $19,122,357. All four defendants face up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release. Sentencing has been set for July 24, 2007.
Rockwell Automation Inc. is a global provider of automation, power, control, and information solutions. It produces, among other things, specialized factory management software. The majority of the software applications sold by these defendants on eBay had retail prices ranging from approximately $900 to $11,325. Rockwell Automation owns the registered copyrights to all Rockwell/Allen Bradley software and the copyright on the product’s packaging.
Barber admitted that from April 29, 2003, through Aug. 12, 2004, he initiated 217 or more separate online auctions on eBay under usernames “lottagold,” “dragonfly.2003,” and “got6towin,” in which he sold copies of Rockwell Automation software for a personal profit of approximately $32,500. The actual retail value of this software was more than $1.4 million.
Buchanan admitted that from Jan. 20, 2004, through Aug. 16, 2004, he initiated 67 or more separate online auctions on eBay under usernames “plchelper14” and “buchanan24” in which he sold Rockwell Automation software for a personal profit of approximately $13,100. The actual retail value of this software was more than $2 million.
Davis admitted that from Feb. 17, 2003, through Aug. 30, 2004, he initiated 53 or more separate online auctions on eBay under usernames “periwinkle2262” and “phoenix-electronics,” in which he sold copies of Rockwell Automation software for a personal profit of approximately $17,000. The actual retail value of this software was nearly $8 million.
Svetska admitted that from June 4, 2003, through Aug. 4, 2004, he initiated 376 or more separate online auctions on eBay under usernames “branwen2003,” “frodo749,” “drydae11” and “huskerman54,” in which he sold Rockwell Automation software for a personal profit of approximately $59,700. The actual retail value of this software was more than $7.6 million.
Today’s pleas bring the total number of felony convictions involving the eBay auction sales of counterfeit Rockwell Automation software to seven. In addition to these four pleas in Wisconsin, there have been two convictions in the Eastern District of Michigan and another in the Southern District of Indiana. The combined retail value of the counterfeit software in all seven cases is approximately $25 million.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that intellectual property theft causes American companies $250 billion in annual losses, not counting significant losses due to Internet piracy. Online auction sales of counterfeit and pirated goods have increased exponentially in recent years, causing staggering losses to the copyright and trademark industries. The Department of Justice’s initiative to combat online auction piracy is just one of several steps being undertaken to address these losses and hold responsible those defendants engaged in criminal copyright infringement.
These cases were investigated by the FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office. Trial attorney Matthew J. Bassiur of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen A. Ingraham for the Eastern District of Wisconsin prosecuted these cases on behalf of the government.
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