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Criminal charges from airsoft gun sale may continue in Indiana

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Charges of theft, counterfeiting and corrupt business influence against Houston-based defendants as a result of the sale of airsoft guns in Indiana can proceed in this state, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In An-Hung Yao and Yu-Ting Lin v. State of Indiana, 35S02-1112-CR-704, the justices affirmed the trial court denial of An-Hung Yao and Yu-Ting Lin’s motions to dismiss the charging informations on jurisdictional grounds and the denial of their motions to dismiss the charging informations alleging three counts each of Class D felonies theft and corrupt business influence. The justices reversed the trial court’s grant of the defendant’s motion to dismiss the charging informations alleging one count each of Class C felony counterfeiting.

Lin operates Generation Guns from Houston, Texas. The company imports from Taiwan and sells in the U.S. “airsoft guns,” toy replicas that look like real guns but shoot lightweight plastic pellets. An-Hug Yao, vice-president of a Houston bank and friend of Lin’s, helped her set up systems for her business and attended trade shows with her. Heckler & Koch Inc. ordered airsoft guns from Lin’s company and had them shipped to Huntington County, Ind. The toys delivered were replicas of guns made by H&K.

On interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded that all charges should be dismissed because the trial court lacked territorial jurisdiction.

Justice Robert Rucker wrote that the court couldn’t conclude as a matter of law the defendants engaged in no conduct nor effected any result in Indiana that was an element of either the theft or counterfeiting charge. If the state can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lin and Yao engaged in Indiana in any one or more of the forms of exerting control over the property of H&K, then the defendants would be entitled to acquittal or judgment on the evidence.

The justices rejected the defendants’ claim that their airsoft guns can’t constitute a written instrument under the counterfeiting statute because the guns don’t contain any “written matter.” The high court adopted the state’s view of the statute that defines “written instrument” more broadly, which could include an object or symbol of value, right, privilege or identification, even if the object or symbol doesn’t contain writings or markings.

Lin and Yao also argued that it’s not “theoretically possible” to “exert unauthorized control” over a third-party’s trademark right. They also want this case resolved under civil trademark infringement law, not criminal law.

But whether a theft prosecution is the “wrong tool for the job” when it comes to defining intellectual property interests, that is not the justices’ jobs, Rucker wrote. “Rather, our job is to apply the Indiana criminal statutes as drafted by the Legislature. And under those statutes, the questions in this case include whether the Defendants, did beyond a reasonable doubt: 1) knowingly or intentionally; 2) obtain, take, carry, sell, convey, encumber, or possess property, or secure, transfer, or extend a right to property; 3) which property belonged to H & K; 4) without H & K’s consent; 5) with intent to deprive H & K of any part of the property’s value or use? And these are all questions of fact that cannot be determined on a motion to dismiss.”



 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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