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Welcome Morning Call Readers!

Thanks to fashionable reporter Kelly-Anne Suarez for exploring the counterfeit question in the wake of a Pennsylvania flea market bust -- during which the cops may have engaged in a bit of false representation of their own.  According to the article:

Sophia Petryszyn of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., was there last Sunday, when the undercover police made their move. She said she'd just asked a vendor if she could exchange a pair of leather sandals she'd purchased for her husband.

''And a cop turns around and says, 'If you want to get arrested for receiving stolen property,''' Petryszyn said. ''I was so scared, I just turned around. I didn't want them to take my bag away.''

She laughed and adjusted the fake, brown Coach purse slung over her shoulder. She'd bought it for $30 minutes before the raid.

What the police officer didn't tell the counterfeit customer is that in the U.S., unlike in France or Italy, neither buying nor possessing fake merchandise is a crime, even though selling it is.  And while the flea market vendors in question may have participated in the theft of "Coach" and other trademarks via unauthorized copying, the goods themselves were not stolen property in the legal or traditional sense. 

On the other hand, the logic of the cop's statement is clear.  If intellectual property is indeed "property," then it follows that taking it without permission should constitute "stealing."  The fact that the law differentiates between taking the trademark via copying and taking the handbag or other tangible object in which the trademark is embodied demonstrates the unique nature of intellectual property -- and the reason why some scholars still debate the utility of the term.

A nice conundrum for a Monday (and yes, those quotes are from your humble blogger).