Sell Illegal Drugs On The Dark Web? Don’t Trademark Your Brand
Apr. 5, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — While it seems like common sense, following recent events, here’s a free piece of life advice: if you’re a drug dealer selling illegal drugs on dark web marketplaces similar to Empire Market, don’t try to trademark your “brand”. You will get caught, because – wait for it – the USPTO is an agency of the GOVERNMENT.
The genius in this case is David Burchard, a long time seller of drugs on the dark web under the name “caliconnect” on the now defunct Silk Road who later moved onto to other similarly illicit marketplaces. He was arrested last week after he filed an application to trademark his brand for his drug-dealing pseudonym “caliconnect”, but provided his real name and information on the paperwork.
Homeland Security Investigators estimate that to date Burchard had raked in sales of around $1.25 million in his illicit endeavors. The FBI estimates that he was the 18th largest vendor out of 4000 vendors on Silk Road. Prior to his arrest, investigators had already turned their attention to Burchard due to the inordinate amount of Bitcoins he was buying and selling, when no legitimate source for them was immediately apparent.
On the basis of this, authorities were monitoring his home and his movements, noting that Burchard appeared to make several trips to the post office with large packages. In January, a search warrant was issued and executed at Burchard’s home where several computers, USBs, cars etc were seized. During the search, “caliconnect” branded clothing was also discovered, which Burchard revealed was part of his imminent clothing line. I mean who does this guy think he is, Snoop Dogg or something?
While it may have been inevitable that the authorities would eventually catch up to Burchard, his seeming sloppiness is mindboggling. However, it’s not the first or last time a criminal mastermind makes a mistake. Ross Ulbricht, the brains behind the Silk Road endeavor, was apprehended by authorities after he used his personal email to request assistance with the running of the site, and the site’s administrator, Blake Benthall, was caught because he carelessly registered the server under his own name.