The California Attorney General's Office announced Friday the arrest of a con man accused of defrauding entrepreneurs by promising to help them secure patents for inventions, and then stealing the products and selling the patent rights for thousands of dollars. The stolen inventions ranged from complex software programs to gardening tools.
"This thief of intellectual property pretended he was helping entrepreneurs obtain patent protection but instead sold their inventions and took all the profits," said Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Over a period of four years, Michael Beninsig ran an office out of El Dorado Hills, California, telling entrepreneurs and inventors that he knew patent lawyers in India who could quickly and inexpensively process patent applications.
Beninsig faces four felony charges, including theft and embezzlement, and could receive up to five years in prison.
The con suggests the importance of protecting intellectual property, especially considering the growing ease with which trademark or patent-protected information can be transferred. As intellectual property infringements become commonplace, governments are faced with the task of developing preventive measures. One such initiative is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, drafted in Tokyo earlier this month, which aims to reduce piracy through a strict set of internationally enforced regulations.