Case #: No. C12-06367 LB United States District Court for the Northern District of California Full Text Opinion: N/A LexisNxis Link: 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175314 Westlaw Link: N/A
Criminal, Immigration :
Trademark counterfeiting under 18 U.S.C. § 2320(a) is an aggravated felony under § 1101(1)(43)(M)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Opinion (Beeler): Lifeng Wang ("Wang") sued Aljandro Mayorkas ("Mayorkas"), the director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), after USCIS denied her application to become a naturalized citizen. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The basis of the denial of Wang's application was her 2005 felony conviction for trafficking in counterfeit goods in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2320(a). USCIS argued that Wang would be precluded from establishing her good moral character which is a requirement for naturalization because trademark counterfeiting is a crime of deceit and moral turpitude. Wang argued that her crime did not qualify as a aggravated felony because the definitions of counterfeit and spurious marks under 18 U.S.C. 2320(a) are severable and that because a mark causes confusion or mistake, it does not necessarily involve fraud or deceit, and so her crime should not have qualified as an aggravated felony. The court, citing a recent Supreme Court opinion, explained that aggravated felonies as defined by § 1101(a)(43)(M)(i) were not necessarily limited to crimes which included "fraud" and "deceit" as formal elements of the crime. The court then applied a categorical approach to the crime, reasoning that trademark counterfeiting is an inherently fraudulent crime and that a violation of 18 U.S.C. 2320(a) necessarily invovles fraud or deceit. The court then determined that Wang's crime was aggravated because the loss suffered by the victim was well above the $10,000 threshold necessary for a crime to be considered aggravated under § 1101(a)(43)(M)(i). The court held that Wang's trademark counterfeiting was an aggravated felony. Accordingly, USCIS's motion for summary judgment was GRANTED.