Counterfeit auto parts seized by CBP.

Seized shipment of counterfeit auto parts; source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, officers in Philadelphia seized counterfeit Chinese vehicle parts in June consisting of door locks, hinges, powered mirrors, steering wheel switches, headlights and taillights, grills, rear bumpers, and paint kits. As the goods from China were branded with “Mercedes-Benz”, CBP officers suspected the goods may have been counterfeit. CBP Officers confirmed with the trademark holder and seized the goods for being counterfeit. The estimated retail value of the goods, if authentic totals $295,052.

If your shipment of goods from China has been detained or seized for suspicion of being counterfeit, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com 24/7 for immediate assistance.

Counterfeit AirPods seized by Customs.

Seized TWS headphones, source: CBP.gov

In mid-June, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville seized 8 shipments manifested as “bluetooth audio devices” and found 817 pairs of earbuds that bear a strong resemblance to Apple Incorporated’s AirPods three-dimensional configuration trademark. As you are aware, CBP is required by law to enforce trademarks and patents if the trademark/patent/copyright holder submits a request to Customs.

In all cases involving intellectual property rights seizures – CBP import specialists will submit photos or samples of goods suspected of violating intellectual property rights to the rights holder. In 100% of the cases, Apple will always reject any sample or photo as counterfeit. Even if the imported phone is a phone previously sold through T-Mobile, traded-in by the first user, sold to a liquidator, exported to China for repair, then shipped back to the US – Apple will notify Customs the phone is counterfeit.

While the AirPods in this shipment did not contain the Apple logo, CBP is enforcing the 3-d configuration trademark. While the photo provided by Customs is hard to see, I believe the AirPods seized are the TWS-iXX headphones. The earlier models of the TWS I believe started with the TWS-i7, and in 2021 I see TWS-i12 headphones being sold. I cannot see the model number clearly, but can determine the photos are boxed TWS series headphones.

Customs seized the headphones and determined the value of the 817 headphones was approximately $331,360 if genuine, or about $405 per pair. I do not know how CBP valued these headphones as authentic Apple AirPods start at $199 and go as high as $249 for the AirPod Pro models.

If you have had your TWS shipment seized by Customs, or have any other IPR violations, contact Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate assistance at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com. We are based in Houston but represent clients nationwide and abroad. Call for your free consultation.

$4.2 million in fake jewelry seized.

Image of seized good, source: CBP.gov

According to a CBP media release – officers in Cincinnati seized a shipment in late March containing jewelry with name brands such as Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Pandora, Cartier, Dior, Gucci and more. When suspected counterfeit goods are seized, samples and photos of the seized goods are sent to a CBP Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) where the shipment is further evaluated. At the CEE, an import specialist will determine whether the jewelry is real – one method is through verification with the property right holder.

While the declared value on the shipment was $119, the actual value of the seized goods, if authentic would total more than $4.2 million dollars.

I am frequently asked why customs uses the “if authentic” value versus the declared value – since the declared value is likely more accurate to what the seized goods actually cost.

The main reason is Customs will use the “if authentic” value when issuing fines to the importer of record. And perhaps the most obvious reason to only use the “if authentic” value is for impact. A $4.2 million seizure is much more impactful than a $119 seizure of counterfeit goods.

If you or anyone you know has had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Massive amount of counterfeit coins and fake $100 bills seized by Customs.

Images of seized $100 bills, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP in Chicago seized 279 parcels containing multiple denominations in coin currency. The shipment consisted of 88 packages containing 2,020 coins with subsequent seizures containing 93 packages and over 2,548 coins. The third and fourth seizure contained 52 parcels of 908 counterfeit coins and 46 parcels containing 1,191 coins. CBP reports most of the coins were collector items bearing images of a buffalo, bald eagle or native Americans stamped on the coins. The packages were seized on suspicion of being counterfeit.

In addition to coins, CBP also seized multiple packages containing $149,200 and $9,700 in counterfeit 100 dollar bills. While the shipments were manifested as “bar props”, CBP still seized the counterfeit currency because copying Federal Reserve notes is a federal offense.

I often see counterfeit $100 bills for sale on popular online shopping websites that rhyme with “dish” located in China and selling play money labeled as “prop money”. If you are the importer of record, CBP may (likely will) seize the fake money, even if the words “prop money” are written on the face of the bill, the currency is still a copy of real currency and therefore illegal to import.

If you have had your goods seized, whether it is collector coins from China or copies of $100 bills, contact David Hsu by phone text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com anytime for immediate assistance.

Counterfeit 3M masks seized by CBP.

Image of seized masks, source: cbp.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, Chicago-based CBP officers in early March seized 136 boxes of suspected counterfeit 3M branded N95 type masks bearing the 3M registered trademarks. This most recent seizure is just one of tens of shipments Customs has seized since the start of the pandemic over one year ago.

CBP questioned the authenticity of the masks due to a chemical smell and grammatical errors on the packaging. In instances of suspected counterfeit violations, CBP specialists check with the trademark holder. CBP seized over 65,000 masks contained within the 136 boxes, if authentic the masks would be valued at over $400,000.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$450,000 worth of vaping pens from HK seized by US Customs.

Image of seized dragster pens, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at Chicago O’Hare seized 50,000 vaping pens from Hong Kong.

The “dragster Mountain Vape Pens” were seized because they violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) regarding the importation of tobacco products – specifically for being misbranded and for being imported by an unauthorized agent. Typically this means an importer is not authorized to import goods (that may be counterfeit).

According to the Customs media release, Customs believes the shipment was intentionally and improperly mislabeled as “lithium ion batteries” to avoid seizure.

While not reported in the Customs media release – shipments that are mislabeled are typically seized under statute 19USC1499(a)(3)(A), copied below:

(3)Unspecified articles If any package contains any article not specified in the invoice or entry and, in the opinion of the Customs Service, the article was omitted from the invoice or entry—(A) with fraudulent intent on the part of the seller, shipper, owner, agent, importer of record, or entry filer, the contents of the entire package in which such article is found shall be subject to seizure; or

19USC1499(a)(3)(A) is a catch all statute Customs frequently uses to seize any goods that are not included in paperwork. Omissions or mis-representations on the paperwork (regardless of goods being imported) is the easiest way for Customs to seize shipments. If you are in the import business – be sure the exporter is correctly declaring the shipment and are following your import compliance manual and procedures.

If you import and don’t have a compliance manual or procedures – contact me, you need one, 832-896-6288.

Going back to the vape pens – Customs will likely not release these goods as the FDA has increasingly cracked down on the importation of these vape pens and other nicotine delivery systems. The alleged counterfeit nature of the pens and the mislabeling of the shipment will likely mean these vape pens will not be released.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact seizure attorney David Hsu immediately by phone or text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

That stinks! Customs seizes counterfeit perfume.

crop sensual woman spraying perfume
Photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels.com

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach (LA/LB) seaport seized a shipment of counterfeit perfumes valued over $366,000 if authentic.

The shipment of over 80 cartons from Hong Kong contained 3,739 bottles with brand names such as Dior, Chanel and Paco Rabanne according to import specialists with the Consumer Products Mass Merchandising Center (CPMM). The CPMM will contact the trademark or intellectual property rights holder and seize the goods if they are told the goods are not authentic.

If you have had your shipment seized for alleged trademark violations – contact David Hsu to discuss your options by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Who’s at fault – the importer or the manufacturer who used “Samsung” batteries in the toys?

batteries lot
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com

I receive at least one call a week from importers who have had their goods seized by Customs for trademark violations, and one very common seizure is for “Samsung” batteries (or any other brand name) contained within toys such as hoverboards or RC vehicles.

As you are aware, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the hall monitor of the multiple government agencies and CBP is tasked with the enforcement of all rules and regulations established by the various agencies – for example, CBP enforces trademarks, enforces FDA import alerts, enforces US Fish and Wildlife restrictions on shark fins and all of the tens of thousands of rules from every agency.

In regards to trademarks, CBP must enforce trademarks if the intellectual property holder registered the trademark with Customs. Unfortunately for importers, Samsung has registered many trademarks and anything found to contain the “Samsung” trademark is easy picking for Customs to detain.

Typically, CBP has the ability to detain goods for 5 days – and longer if the detention is because the goods are suspected of violating intellectual property rights.

Once CBP detains a shipment – they notify the importer of record (IOR) or customs broker the shipment has been detained and will be released pending proof the IOR has authorization from the trademark holder to import the trademarked goods.

Unfortunately, 10 out of 10 times the trademark holder will respond to Customs the IOR does not have authority to import the trademarked good. Once that happens, CBP will officially seize the goods and issue a Notice of Seizure to the IOR by certified mail, return receipt requested.

The importer of record then has 30 days to respond to the seizure. According to the Election of Proceedings form on the last page of the seizure notice, there are 4 options – (1) file a petition, (2) forfeit the goods, (3) refer to court action or offer in compromise.

Going back to the original question – who is at fault for the seizure, the manufacturer that used “Samsung” batteries or the importer of record? And as you can guess from the above – CBP will ultimately find the Importer of Record responsible for trademark violations. While this answer seems unfair, it makes sense as CBP has no authority outside of the United States and no mechanism to go after the manufacturer. The only party CBP can find liable is the importer of record.

If you have had your good seized for any reason – contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

550 pounds of counterfeit Apple and Samsung products seized.

Seized Apple products, source: CBP.gov

According to a mid-December U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Cincinnati seized multiple boxes of counterfeit goods totaling 550 pounds. The seized shipment from Hong Kong arrived in multiple shipments and included electronic accessories such as cables, earbuds, chargers with counterfeit logos from brands such as Apple and Samsung. CBP estimated the MSRP (if authentic) of the goods was $49,666.00 – a very specific amount typically used when there is a quantity of counterfeit goods seized.

This is the first time in recent memory CBP has described a shipment of counterfeit goods by weight. My guess is the number of earbuds, cables, chargers and adapters (lighting to headphone jack?) were packaged in small boxes or clamshell packaging. Separating each earbud case, each box of cable and each charger would likely have taken too much time to separate and count.

The media release includes the typical CBP paragraph warning counterfeit goods and the sale of contribute to criminal activity, forced labor, human trafficking and cause a risk to consumers due to the products not meeting quality standards.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com to discuss your options.

No laughing matter – $1.3 million in counterfeit LOL toys seized.

Seized “LOL Surprise!” toys, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of New York/Newark recently seized a shipment of counterfeit LOL Surprise toys along with counterfeit UNO card games. The large seized shipment contained over 141,000 card games and over 11,000 counterfeit LOL surprise balls and capsule toys. If authentic, the total MSRP of the seized goods would have totaled approximately $1,300,000.

Toys suspected of being counterfeit are reviewed by CBP’s Consumer Prodcuts and Mass Merchandising Center for Excellence and Expertise (CEE). The CEE in turn will work with the trademark holders to verify the authenticity of the goods.

Interestingly, this Customs media release indicates the seizure was also being investigated by the Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents. HSI involvement typically means suspicion of criminal activity or something more than the usual counterfeit goods.

If you or someone you know has had your shipment seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com to discuss your options.