I like IP laws - well, at least the ones of 50+ years ago - when there was more of a balance between the term of patent protection to encourage R&D and eventually letting the invention be used freely by others. Back when the Patent Office actually reviewed applications instead of letting it all get sorted out in the courts. And one really had to describe how the invention was made or how the process worked and not just grab as much of an engineering realm as possible while withholding important information.
And I agree with copyright protection (during a period corresponding roughly to an artist/author's life, that isn't just corporate welfare for Disney, et al).
And I think Trademark protection is a good thing. I'm even okay with it being potentially forever. Philip Morris has spent how many millions (could it be over a billion?) promoting Malboro(TM), and someone else shouldn't be able to market cigarettes in indentical red, white and black packaging.
My response to your post was on two points:
1) A consumer buying goods with a counterfeit trademark is not going to be arrested or fined. The extent to which they have broken an enforceable rule or regulation is if they transport it through customs where it could be seized.
2) that legal versus illegal can be proxies for morality. So I gave some counter examples (based on my morals, YMMV).
I don't have any faux Gucci(TM) handbags or Hermes(TM) scarves, but based on the shear fraction of the market effected by counterfeits, I'd assume I unknowingly have bought a few counterfeit Levi's(TM), Carrhartts(TM), Columbia(TM), etc. I was filling in a few blanks in the coin collection I inherited from my grandmother on eBay when it dawned on me that if the US government could mint a coin in 1878, someone in China can do a bang-up job of it in 2011, so I stopped. Even before that occurred to me, thankfully I'd noted which ones I'd gotten from her - I liked knowing that she'd put them in the album herself 80 years ago.
I will admit to one knowing and one possible infraction on my part. The whole family was in China teaching math, science and English in an exchange program through Yale and my 7-year-old daughter wanted to buy a watch. And she liked the Mickey Mouse(C) one. Now I know that despite the authentic-looking, silvery holographic sticker on it and all the official Disney markings, nothing was contributed to Bob Iger's executive bonus. Ironically, it was the MOST iconic and least defensible use of copyright protection because if it hadn't been for Mickey Mouse(C) and Disney, maybe our copyright laws wouldn't have taken a further turn for the worse in 1998, but I let her get it.
My other possible offense was to buy Oreo cookies in an Chinese supermarket. It is certainly possible, maybe even likely, that Nabisco got no royalties. But I really wanted to know what Oreos with green-tea filling tasted like.
I deeply apologize to any families that lost loved ones to an terrorist action financed from the ill-gotten gains of that Y100 (US$16) watch. (And the US$2 cookies). I have to take Ian at his word about terrorists financing themselves by manufacturing fake Rolexes (I thought they were bigger into conflict diamonds, controlling gold-mining areas, poppy fields, cocaine production and distribution, gun running, kidnapping, highjacking ships, prostitution, and wide-spread exhortation but maybe not). If the first two sentences of this paragraph sounds sarcastic, well, they are. "Hey, Che, put down your AK-47 and that C-4 and help me design a production line for watches that is so efficient they can be sold for $10 in Times Square."?!? I'm just not seeing it. And these mysterious "public documents" that Ian can't tell us about? An even older excuse than "We need this law to defend against terrorists" is "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." I'm not saying counterfeiters aren't criminals - they are. And they probably don't treat their workers very well. I'd like to think I would have opposed McCarthyism in the 1950's. I certainly can't support making un-named terrorists the universal boogyman of this century.