Imprisonment for Smuggling Counterfeits?

On December 30, 2010, the National Assembly of Venezuela enacted a new Criminal smuggling law. This law defines “simple smuggling” as the import, export or transport of merchandise “without complying or intending not to comply with customs requisites, formalities or controls.” According to this new stringent law, penalties will be increased by 50 percent if the smuggled goods violate Intellectual Property rights. For example, a person convicted of the “simple smuggling” of goods bearing a counterfeit mark may be imprisoned for nine (9) to twelve (12) years. Furthermore, if Customs officials appropriate, dispose of, consume or distribute seized goods, or interfere with delivery to a competent authority, they may be imprisoned for five (5) to nine (9) years.

In addition, the new law also provides that seized goods that violate Intellectual Property rights must be publicly destroyed or burned within six months after conviction of the defendant. This term may be extended for an additional six months. The judge who presides over the case and the representative of the Attorney General’s Office must be present when the goods are destroyed. Alternatively, the goods may be donated to not-for-profit associations or institutions after removal of the infringing mark.
Are these laws too strict? Or do you think the US needs to take an example.

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