Image of seized Roku remotes, source: CBP.gov
With shelter in place taking effect over larger parts of the US, people are streaming more than ever. Perhaps to capitalize upon this, one importer in Philadelphia had a shipment of 1,600 Roku remotes seized by CBP in late April.
According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Pittsburgh seized 1,600 counterfeit Roku remotes last week. If authentic, the remotes would have an approximate MSRP of $80,000. The media release claimed the remotes were made from “substandard materials that could easily break” and lacked the “full inventory of options or commands that an authentic remote offers”.
Were these remotes really counterfeit? I’ve handled many cases from my clients who have had their goods seized. Especially my clients in the refurbishment business. Used or returned goods to a retailer are liquidated in bulk to wholesalers or other private companies who will repair the goods (refurbish) and then resell as used in various condition. Retailers frequently liquidate returned goods such as phones and other personal electronics.
As refurbishment costs are high in the United States, it is more economical to send the damaged goods overseas (typically to China) for repair and then sent back. The problem is upon shipment back to the US, CBP will detain the goods on suspicion of an IPR violation. CBP suspects the goods are counterfeit because (1) the repair process makes the goods appear new, and (2) the goods are shipped in non-oem packaging – typically in bubble wrap and bundled together to save on freight charges. In the photo above from CBP, you can see the remotes in bubble wrap and shipped without the typical Roku packaging. When CBP sees items such as these remotes, or typically repaired iphones or Samsung phones, they believe the goods are counterfeit even though the items were shipped to China for repair.
What happens during a customs seizure? If you are an importer, CBP may detain your shipment first. While your shipment is detained, CBP sends a photo of the item to the intellectual property right (IPR) holder. The IPR holder will more likely than not tell CBP the goods are counterfeit. If so, CBP will seize the goods and issue a seizure notice.
You will be mailed a seizure notice by certified mail, return receipt requested (CMRRR). If you receive the notice, make a note of the letter date and add 30 days – write down the 30 days and be sure you respond before 30 days has expired.
If you receive a notice of seizure, do not ignore the seizure notice. If so, CBP may forfeit your goods and issue you a penalty. Contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone or text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.