CBP seizes counterfeit Air Pods and Apple watches.

Seized counterfeit Apple watches, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers in Chicago inspected and seized seven boxes from Hong Kong containing 423 smart watches and 200 earphones. With suspected intellectual property seizures, CBP will send photos or samples of the items to the Electronics Center of Excellence and Expertise (Electronics CEE). The CEE will then verify with the property rights holder if the importer was authorized to use the word mark. 100% of the time the property rights holder will reply the importer of record is not authorized to import the goods and the entire shipment will be seized.

In addition to registering the “Apple”, “iPhone” with Customs, companies can also protect the shape, design, form and function of the items. For example, the photo above shows the same shape and design of an Apple Watch. CBP estimates the value of the shipment, if authentic would be approximately $204,168.

What happens after a seizure?
If you are an importer, after a seizure, CBP will send you a “Notice of Seizure”. You will then have 30 days to respond to the Notice of Seizure, if you do not – then Customs will begin forfeiture of your goods.

Contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com if you have received a seizure notice to discuss your options.

CBP seizes unapproved disinfectant wipes.

Image of seized disinfecting wipes, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Alabama seized over $120,000 worth of disinfecting wipes that were mislabeled and unregistered. The 843 boxes contained 20,016 bottles of disinfectant wipes with no approved markings from the FDA or EPA.

Since June of this year, CBP has seized over 120,000 COVID-19 test kits, 10 million counterfeit face masks, 20,000 chloroquine tablets and over 4,000 tablets of antibiotics.

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.

Prescription medication seized by CBP.

Image of seized medication, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Indianapolis seized multiple shipments of Zolpidem, 10 milligram tablets, a schedule IV controlled substance used as a sedative.

The packages were sent from the United Kingdom and headed to separate addresses in the US. The shipments were arriving from the United Kingdom and were all headed to separate addresses. The shipper hid the Zolpidem in coffee tins.

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

Fake luxury belts seized by Customs.

Seized “Gucci” belts, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Kentucky seized two shipments containing over 648 counterfeit belts. The above photo provided by CBP shows the belts had the Gucci logo – the shipment also included “Salvatore Ferragamo” belt buckles. If real, CBP says the belts have a retail value of $350,496.

Author’s note – CBP media releases usually go into detail about the description of the goods and the packaging or item quality that resulted in Customs questioning the authenticity of the goods. I believe Customs probably scrutinizes any shipment from Hong Kong that contains clothing or accessories.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, give me a call, there might be something we can do to limit your legal liability. Call or text me anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Fake designer jewelry seized by CBP in San Juan.

“Piguet” watch, Source: CBP.gov

Another day, another U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) counterfeit seizure – this time in San Juan, Puerto Rico. According to the CBP media release, San Juan Field Operations seized counterfeit jewelry from a shipment originating out of Hong Kong. If genuine, Customs estimated the shipment to be worth approximately $1.2 million.

CBP did not mention the copied brands, but the photo attached to the media release was labeled “Piguet”, perhaps the name found on the watch to copy the “Piaget” brand.

Author’s comments – if the image of the watch attached to the media release is indicative of the products seized, it seems like this shipment probably was not trying to copy any actual luxury brands.

I don’t wear a watch – but looking at the Piaget watches sold online – I don’t see anything closely resembling what is shown in the attached photo. Most Piaget watches I see online look like a typical watchface with dials and easy to read numbers – much different than the “diamond” covered face of the seized watch. My guess is that a manufacturer in Shenzhen created their own brand of watches and needed a name, and therefore took the “Piaget” name and changed a few letters to “Piguet” (which appears more similar to the “Peugeot” car brand.

I understand that Customs is tasked with enforcing registered marks, word marks, trademarks etc., however, is this “Piguet” watch an attempt to counterfeit a real “Piaget” watch? Or is this an instance of a manufacturer taking a brand name, and changing it. I always think back to the old Simpsons episode where Homer buys a “SORNY” TV instead of a real “SONY”.

A quick search on Alibaba shows “Reebow” branded athletic equipment, and “Hommy Tilfiger” duffel bags next to “Carsonkangaroo” branded wallets under a logo silhouette of a kangaroo not closely resembling the Kangol logo.

I think it is arguable these shipments are not counterfeits – someone (not your author) aware of a high-end luxury brand such as Piaget would not confuse a watch branded “Piguet” with a real Piaget.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu anytime by phone/text at 832-896-6288. You can also find me on Line, WeChat, WhatsApp, Telegram by the same phone number – or email me at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, would be glad to evaluate your case for free.

Kratom contaminated with salmonella seized by CBP.

Image of kratom powder, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Detroit seized more than a half ton of “salmonella-laced Kratom” at the Fort Street Cargo Facility.

Author’s comment: the original headline was “CBP Seizes Half Ton of Salmonella-Laced Kratom“. Not sure why they used the word “laced” in the headline as lacing something is typically used to mean adding an ingredient to bulk up a drug. I am unsure how a kratom exporter can “lace” kratom with salmonella on purpose or if there would be a benefit to doing so. Additionally, the use of the word “lace” to describe kratom may also be an effort to associate kratom as dangerous as other illegal drugs that are frequently laced such as crack, heroin, PCP, etc.

The media release reports 1,200 pounds of contaminated powder (valued according to CBP at $405,000) was selected for further inspection due to an unusual description and classification discrepancies.

CBP said the kratom “which originated from China, were manifested as botanical soils from Canada, though Officers and specialists believed it to be consistent in appearance to bulk green tea”.

Author’s comment: this is the first time I have heard of kratom from China, maybe it was transhipped from Indonesia? CBP did not indicate the “classification discrepancy” or point out what HTSUS code was used to enter the kratom.

CBP took a sample of the power and sent it to the Food and Drug Administration for lab tests – which confirmed the shipment was kratom but also saw it was contaminated with salmonella. As a result, CBP seized the shipment “due to significant risk to public health and safety”.

Author’s comment: CBP does not specify the import alert on kratom as the basis for seizure. I have not seen the seizure notice (it will only be sent to the importer of record), but it was likely seized for not being described as kratom on the shipping documents.

In the last paragraph of the CBP media release, they write:

Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, and its leaves are often ingested in the form of tea. Depending on dosage, Kratom can produce both stimulant and sedative effects. Kratom is not a scheduled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, though the Drug Enforcement Administration currently lists it as a Drug or Chemical of Concern.

It is interesting they do not mention the 2016 import alert regarding kratom. If you have had your shipment of kratom (mitragyna speciosa) seized by CBP, contact David Hsu, 24/7 by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Ancient artifact from Iran seized by US Customs.

Seized Iranian vase, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Kentucky seized a shipment containing an antique amber glass bottle believed to be an antique from the 9th to 10th century. CBP officers forwarded the antique to a subject matter export who examined the bottle and determined the bottle was from Iran between the 11th and early 13th centuries.

The shipment from the UK bound for an address in Colorado was unfortunately seized for Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) violations. As you are aware, current OFAC rules prohibit the importation of goods or services from Iran. OFAC is a department under the U.S. Treasury and enforces economic and trade sanctions against certain countries and individuals who are believed to be involved with terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking or other illegal and disreputable activities.

Besides OFAC issues, CBP also helps protect cultural property and keeps antiques with their rightful owners. The seized Iranian vase will be returned to Iran.

In addition to merchandise from Iran, OFAC regulations prohibit importation of goods and services from Cuba, Burma (Myanmar), and most of Sudan. Certain exceptions can be made but do require an OFAC license for those importations.

If you have any questions about OFAC enforcement or compliance, contact David Hsu by phone/text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$252,000 in “prop currency/money” seized by Customs.

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Image of seized bundles of “prop money”, source: CBP.gov

In Mid-May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Ohio seized counterfeit $100 bills totaling over $252,000. The shipment was from China to an address in Oklahoma. The package was selected for examination and an x-ray of the package showed what appears to typically be bundled currency.

Upon further inspection, CBP officers found $252,300 in cash (photo above is the actual seized currency). The currency was determined to be fake because it was printed on regular paper and had the same serial number for every bill. Additionally, on the back of the currency were the words in simplified Chinese: 道具专用 (see photo below of the actual image released by Customs).

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Image of simplified Chinese writing on the back of the $100 bill, source: CBP.gov

As an aside – simplified Chinese is the writing used in mainland China. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan all use the traditional form of writing Chinese characters.

The CBP media release explained the Chinese words as foreign writing and did not translate the words in Chinese. The words in Chinese roughly translate to “for prop use only”.

CBP says these notes are “Foreign Writing Notes” and are against Federal law and considered contraband. Sometimes they are also referred to as “motion picture, foreign writing notes”. While the currency is noted for “prop use only”, the currency is seized as the foreign notes are frequently passed off as real currency.

Just my thoughts:

  1. My guess is the person in Oklahoma was going to use the fake money for a video or movie and purchased the play money through a China-based e-commerce portal.
  2. I have never held this kind of prop currency, but maybe the writing in Chinese is erasable? The Secret Service is concerned about the importation of foreign writing notes, and probably has seen many people pass off these notes as real – perhaps the writing in Chinese can be removed?
  3. The CBP media release did not say this importation was referred to the Secret Service or HSI, CBP probably will seize the currency, issue a seizure notice. Without a referral to HSI, CBP has probably determined there was no criminal activity on the part of the importer of record in Oklahoma.

If you have had funny money, or any other of your goods seized by Customs – contact David Hsu if you have any questions – you can call/text 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP Seizes Fake Cat and Dog Flea Collars.

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Counterfeit “seresto” brand food, source: cbp.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Pittsburgh seized 58 fake “Seresto” brand dog and cat flea collars so far this month. CBP officers seized the 13 parcels and submitted samples the the trademark holder, Bayer. The shipments were from China and Hong Kong and if genuine have an approximate retail value of $3,500.

CBP has warned pet owners to not purchsae counterfeit collars as they may contain harmful ingredients that could cause chemical burns or fur loss.

If your goods have been seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text for a no cost or obligation consultation at 832-896-6288, or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Wigs and books seized for containing counterfeit currency.

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Image of wigs containing concealed cash, source: cbp.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Dallas Fort Worth port of entry found $63,000 in counterfeit currency in separate shipments from Nigeria. One shipment contained soft cover books, that upon further inspection yielded currency taped to the pages of the books. The other shipment contained wigs and hair. Upon examination, CBP officers opened the package and found currency in $50 and $100 denominations.

The media release says the counterfeit currency was turned over to the Secret Service.

Funny Money

Image of $100 bills taped to the inside of pages, source: cbp.gov

In general, currency seizures are handled by CBP. In general if your currency case is referred to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), this means Customs likely believes your seized currency is related to something criminal. If your currency seizure case is referred to the United States Secret Service (USSS), it means your currency is suspected to be counterfeit.

If your currency has been seized by CBP, HSI or the USSS, then contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.