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.

Counterfeit sports memorabilia seized by Customs.

Image of seized jerseys, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers in Cincinnati seized 200 counterfeit sports jerseys bearing the autograph of various athletes – including Jason Witten, Dwayne Haskins, Rod Carew and Minkah Fitzpatrick. If authentic, the value of the jerseys would have been worth over $42,000. This shipment was sent from the Philippines to Nashville, Tennessee.

“Counterfeiters only care about making a profit,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. “They don’t care about the effect their fake product has on you, your family, or your job. Our officers are well-trained to find seizures like these, to continue our mission of protecting the American public and the American economy”

In Fiscal Year 2020, CBP seized 26,503 shipments of counterfeit goods worth nearly $1.3 billion had the goods been genuine. Most of these seizures were of apparel and accessories, but fake medical supplies played a significant role as well. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBP has seized more than 13.5 million counterfeit face masks, and more than 177,000 unapproved COVID-19 test kits.

CBP encourages consumers to be aware of counterfeit and pirated goods when shopping this holiday season, particularly when purchasing online. CBP has also established an educational initiative to raise consumer awareness about the consequences and dangers associated with purchasing counterfeit and pirated goods online or in stores. More information about that initiative is available at http://www.cbp.gov/fakegoodsrealdangers.

$25 million in fake watches seized by Customs.

Image of seized Rolex watches, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville, Kentucky seized 1,280 “Rolex” watches, if authentic, would be worth an estimated $25.2 million dollars. The shipment from Hong Kong arrived in four shipments to Louisville, Kentucky ultimately destined for Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are wondering why the seizures usually occur in Louisville, it is because that is where DHL/FedEx/UPS have their hub for shipments from China.

The Customs media release claims the watches were mis-manifested (wrongly described on the entry paperwork, packing list, or invoice). As an aside – Customs at their discretion seize goods that are mis-identfied.

Customs seized the watches and sent either sample photos or a sample seized watch to Rolex to confirm authenticity. As Rolex (and any property rights holder) denied the authenticity, the watches were seized and will be forfeited (destroyed by Customs).

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

Over $9 million worth of counterfeit designer goods seized in Texas.

CBP officers examining 1 of the 148 boxes, source: CBP.gov

Dallas CBP officers at the Dallas/Fort Worth port of entry seized a shipment of counterfeit designer merchandise for China and destined for an address in McKinney, Texas.

CBP claims in their media release their “experience” led them to a perform an examination on the shipment contained in 148 boxes.

CBP’s “experience” is more “common sense” – if your shipment is from China and mentions clothing, watches, shoes, phones, electronics – Customs will take a second look and assume everything with a brand is counterfeit.

Within the 148 boxes, Customs officials found goods bearing trademarks from Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Yeezy among others. Customs look at the quality of the item and the poor packaging to determine the likelihood a good is counterfeit.

Besides visual confirmation a good is likely counterfeit, Customs may also send images or samples of the goods to the trademark holders to verify authenticity – and 10 out of 10 times the trademark holder will say the goods are counterfeit.

If you have had your goods detained or seized, contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-288 or by email to: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Operation Mega Flex – $8 million in counterfeit watches seized.

Counterfeit watches, sources: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release. CBP officers in Ohio seized 11 counterfeit Richard Mille watches from Hong Kong with the ultimate end user in New Orleans. See image above of the seized watches.

The seizures in Ohio and the other intellectual property rights violations seizures are part of CBP’s efforts to stop unfair Chinese trade practices and protect US businesses. This operation is known as “Operation Mega Flex and has resulted in 4,200 seizures of goods in the past 15 months”.

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.