Colorado woman fined $500 by Customs for not declaring an apple.

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As has widely been reported, Colorado resident Crystal Tadlock was catching a connecting flight in Minnesota back to Colorado from a trip to France when CBP in Minnesota stopped her and fined her for not declaring an apple. At the time, CBP indicated they would fine her $500 for failure to declare the apple. Crystal claims she packed the apple (served as part of the in-flight meal service) in her carry-on and forgot about it until she was clearing Customs.

Customs has discretion to fine up to a $1,000 penalty for first time offenses of bringing in prohibited agricultural products and Crystal will likely receive a notice in her mail in about 30 days. Not sure if Crystal is a frequent traveler, however the other consequence of this seizure will be the loss of Global Entry Status.

If you or someone you know has had a Customs seizure and you have received a penalty notice from Customs – call experienced Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate help – 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Importing Refurbished Cell Phones and Customs Seizures.

iPhone Housing

Today’s blog post is in response to our firm seeing an increase in the number of importers having their Samsung or Apple phones seized by Customs.

Typically, our client is a company in the United States that purchases used Apple iPhones or Samsung Galaxy phones from the US. The used phones vary anywhere from A to C stock and may have broken screens, defective home buttons, scratched, dented or damaged housing or cracked camera lens. Some phones are store demos with burn-in on the screens, customer returns or old, new stock. The phones are packaged and then sent to China for repair and refurbishing. The fixed phones are then sent back to the US for sale through wholesalers and distributors.

However, as the phones are shipped back to the company in the US, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detains shipments to review whether or not the cell phones violate any intellectual property rights (IPR).

CBP will first detain the phones and has 30-days to speak to the trademark or IPR holder to determine the authenticity of the trademark or IPR. The trademark could be the “Samsung” logo, the “Apple” logo or even the “iPhone” trademark printed in text on the back of the phones. More often than not, the shipped phones change from being “detained” to being “seized”.

The majority of the seizures are due to trademarks found on the rear housing of the phones. As most importers cannot provide authorization by the trademark or IPR holder the right to use the mark, CBP considers the importer phones to be counterfeit and are then subsequently seized.

If you have had your refurbished iPhone or Samsung phone seized by Customs, call experienced cell phone seizure attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. There are certain time limitations after a seizure has occurred so contact David Hsu today.