Man pleads guilty in multi-million dollar counterfeit cellphone scheme.

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According to CBS 2 news in Boise, Idaho – a man in Boise pleased guilty to trafficking in counterfeit cellphones and accessories. Artur Pupko, age 28, pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit cellphones and cellphone accessories on Amazon and eBay.
According to court documents, Pupko would buy bulk products from China, then repackage the products and claiming them as new and genuine. Pupko may face up to 10 years in prison and a $5 million dollar fine. Sentencing will occur on December 17, 2019.
If you have had your goods seized by Customs and are facing criminal or civil penalties, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by text/call at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

France imposes 3% tax on US technology companies.

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On January 11th, the French Senate and National Assembly passed a 3% tax that will impact American technology firms such as Google and Facebook. In response, the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the US Office of the Trade Representative will start their own investigation to determine whether the French bill is discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts US commerce.

An investigation may result in retaliatory tariffs on French goods such as wine, cheese and perfume. In fact, Trump in the past has hinted at placing tariffs on French wine since France places higher tariffs on imports than the US does. CNBC reports France exported $3.6 billion in wine to the US in 2018, making America France’s largest export market.

135 Chinese Mitten Crabs seized in Indianapolis.

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By Christian Fischer, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=342346

CBP reported on September 18th, the seizure of 135 Chinese Mitten Crabs. Also known as the “Shanghai hairy crab”, these burrowing crabs are named after their furry claws that resemble mittens.

Mitten crabs are invasive species that burrow causing damage to embankments and clogging drainage systems and as such it is illegal to import, transport or possess live Chinese Mitten Crabs in the US.

If you have any import, export or compliance questions, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce expected to present results of national security investigation into auto imports in August.

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U.S. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross Official Portrait

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (pictured above), will present his Department’s findings on the national security investigation of auto imports into the US later next month.

The report to President Trump could impact foreign automakers as the results may lead to the importation of new tariffs – up to 25% on imported cars and parts.

Earlier in May, the U.S. Department of Commerce started a “Section 232” investigation to determine whether imports of cars and parts pose a risk to U.S. national security. As you are aware, invoking Section 232 is the same rule Trump used to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum at 25% back in March of this year.

Last week, foreign governments from Japan, Canada and the EU along with US industry groups met with Commerce to express opposition to the investigation. These groups argued higher tariffs would harm American consumers and workers along with the economy. Part of the harm would stem from an estimated increase in price of imported cars by $6,000 and price of domestic built cars by $2,000.

Check back for further news regarding the auto import tariffs as they become available.

CBP seizes counterfeit mermaid and fashion dolls.

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As reported by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media relations office – CBP agents at the International Falls Port of Entry in Minnesota inspected a rail container and found merchandise that violated intellectual property rights (IPR) regulations.

As you are aware, CBP enforces the intellectual property rights and trademark rights of companies that register their mark with CBP. When goods are suspected of violating IPR – CBP will send photos or a sample to the property rights holder for verification. More often than not, the rights holder will notify CBP that the goods are counterfeit.

Specifically, CBP seized 60,180 mermaid and fashion dolls that contained copyright protected markings. If protected markings are found, even on a small doll accessory or only one doll, CBP will seize items as they had in this case. CBP calculates the seizure value based on the total MSRP if the items were authentic. Here, CBP in Minnesota claims the seized goods total approximately $601,198.

While the CBP media release doesn’t specifically mention the brand name, based on 60,180 dolls having a combined value of $601,198 and based on my experience as a parent to a daughter who loves Barbie – the seized dolls are counterfeit of the standard grocery store Barbie doll for about $10.

So what happens after a seizure? CBP will seize the goods and give the importer of record several options. CBP may also access civil penalties to the IOR.

If you or anyone you know has had items seized by CBP for IPR violations, or if you have any trade and customs law questions – contact experienced customs attorney, David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

 

 

White House imposes tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods.

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As expected, the administration announced Section 301 tariffs on about $50 billion worth of Chinese goods with two purposes: (1) balance the trade relationship between the US and China and (2) prevent the transfer of American technology and intellectual property to China when US businesses operate in China.

After the announcement this morning, China responded by issuing their own tariffs on 659 types of goods from the US starting on July 6th. When announcing the initial $50 billion in tariffs, Trump also indicated any Chinese retalation will also be met with additional US tariffs.

Cliff Notes version of today’s developments:

  1. 2/3rds of the US duties on 1,102 types of goods begins July 6th.
  2. The goods announced on Friday will apply later after a review period ends.
  3. The US imposed these tariffs to limit the transfer of technology to China.
  4. Some lawmakers say these tariffs will only impact the average American due to higher prices.
  5. The first list of goods subject to tariffs can be found here.
  6. The second list of goods subject to tariffs can be found here:

Whether or not these announcements are posturing on both sides, check back for more details.

If you have any questions on how these new tariffs will impact your import or export business, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com

 

Trump administration considering new tariffs on imported vehicles.

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Reuters reports the Trump administration may consider imposing new tariffs on imported vehicles based under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

A little bit of background – a section 232 investigation is conducted under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended and the purpose of a 232 investigation is to determine the effect of imports on the national security. Investigations may be initiated based on an application from an interested party, a request from the head of any department or agency, or may be self-initiated by the Secretary of Commerce.

Reuters reports the administration is currently considering tariffs of up to 25 percent for imported vehicles. As this was just announced, the plan is still not yet implemented and will receive much feedback from interest groups, foreign trading partners, domestic dealers of importer cars and anyone else involved in the import car business.

Check back for the latest news. If you have any questions about the current steel and aluminum tariffs initiated under section 232, contact experienced trade attorney – David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

ZTE and Huawei banned for sale to US military personnel.

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In addition to my blog post from April 19, 2018, ZTE has once again made news according to a Washington Post May 2nd article. In the Washington Post article, the Pentagon instructed the military from selling ZTE and Huawei branded phones from U.S. military bases.

The Defense Department cited security risks posed by the devices made by Huawei and ZTE writing:

“Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to Department’s personnel, information and mission” and that “it was not prudent for the Department’s exchanges to continue selling them to DoD personnel.”

Besides phones, modems and other wireless products manufactured by ZTE and Huawei are also included in the ban.

Under the direction of the President, the move by the Pentagon was an attempt to limit the use of wireless equipment manufactured in China that may contain technology used to spy or hack US citizens and military personnel.

Trump delays decision on steel and aluminium tariffs.

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A little background – back in March 2018, President Trump imposed worldwide tariffs of 25% on imports of steel and 10% on aluminum. Countries such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union were temporarily exempted from these tariffs.

Later in April, the US gave South Korea a permanent exemption from these tariffs in exchange for a 30% reduction of SK exports of steel to the United States.

One country not exempted was China, and as posted previously on this blog, China retaliated with their own duties on many US imports to the middle kingdom.

Fast forward to May 1st and the current administration has extended negotiations on steel and aluminium tariffs for an additional 30 days with Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Tentative agreements have been reached with Argentina, Brazil and Australia.

Check back here for more details as they become available.

Court of International Trade sides with Canadian textile importer and dismisses Customs $4.5 million penalty claim.

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In a just released decision by the the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT), the CIT dismissed U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) efforts to collect $4.5 million in penalties against Tricots Liesse 1983, Inc. (Tricots), a Candian textile company importing goods into the US. The full text of the CIT Slip Op. 18-29 can be found here.

In the instant case, Tricots tried to correct NAFTA rules of origin claims by filing a prior disclosure with CBP. CBP issued an administrative penalty and duty demand while not providing Tricots an opporutnity for oral hearings during the administrative proceedings. CBP then filed suit against Tricots in the CIT to collect $4.5 MM in penalties and duties. In response, Tricots filed a motion to dismiss the claims because CBP did not allow Tricots the opportunity to attempt administrative remedies.

In short, the CIT opinion faults CBP for not allowing Tricots a “reasonable opportunity” to make oral representations after issuing the penalty notice. This decision helps future importers by ensuring any importer has the opportunity to receive an administrative hearing before CBP imposes a penalty.

If you have received a penalty notice from Customs and need assistance, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288, or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.