Counterfeit Juul pods seized by CBP.

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Seized Juul pods. Source: US CBP

Earlier this week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Philadelphia reported a seizure of more than 1,152 counterfeit Juul pods, three chargers and a Juul device from overseas.

According to the CBP, the description of the item was “plastic pipe sample” from China. Upon inspection, CBP found 36 cartons of Juul pods suspected to be counterfeit.

Working with CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Centers for Excellence and Expertise, officers verified the merchandise were counterfeits through the trademark holders.

CBP claims the merchandise has a MSRP of $4,700 if authentic. The rest of the media release reminds the public of the danger posed by unregulated manufacturing facilities that may result in products that are hazardous to the public.

If you or someone you know has had a customs seizure, contact experienced customs attorney David Hsu for information on how we may be able to get your goods released. Call or text 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Can you import refurbished cell phones?

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I get asked this question a lot – and the answer is yes you can. However, cell phones are frequently detained and seized by Customs.

Why are imported refurbished phones detained or seized?
Customs enforces the intellectual property and trademarks of any manufacturer or holder of intellectual property. Apple and Samsung have filed their trademarks and word marks with Customs and CBP may seize your phones (and batteries if they are branded Samsung).

I thought there was an exception for counterfeit goods?
I previously posted on my blog about the counterfeit exception for 1 item. However, that exception only applies if it is carried on you, it will not apply if the counterfeit item is sent by mail.

But my goods are genuine iPhones, why are they still seized?
When suspected counterfeit goods are seized – CBP will take a photo and send to Apple, Samsung (or other property rights holder). The trademark holder will more likely than not tell CBP the phone is counterfeit. From my experience, I have never had any trademark holder agree that the phone is authentic.

How do I know if my cell phone shipment is seized?
Customs will send you a Notice of Seizure signed by the Fines, Penalties and Forfeiture officer of the port where your phones were seized. You have 30 days from the day of the letter to respond. Please note the 30 days is not from the day you receive the notice.

What if I don’t respond to the seizure notice?
If you do nothing, then the goods will be forfeited after the response date. Forfeited means destroyed. Customs may then issue you a civil penalty based on the value of the phones. The value will be retail and not reflect what you paid wholesale or your actual cost. The valuation of the shipment is important because that value is used to determine civil penalties.

I have more questions!
Call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com. There are some things we can do and time is of the essence – call now, no cost or obligation.

Customs seizes $4.4 million in counterfeit products in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

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Images of the seized items. Source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release – Customs agents in Puerto Rico seized counterfeit products with an estimated msrp of $15 million dollars with an actual purchase price of $4.4 million.

In another seizure, CBP officers conducted a 6-day operation in January where they seized 73 packages with intellectual property rights violations totaling $1.8 million.

In a 6-day special operation this January, CBP officers intercepted 73 packages with IPR violations valued at an estimated MSRP of $1. 8 million.

The seized items included counterfeit watches, jewelry, bags, clothing, sunglasses and featured luxury brands such as Pandora, Tous, Nike, Rolex, Hublot, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc.

The rest of the news releases restates the danger of using and buying counterfeit goods and the impact of counterfeit goods on business revenue while also saying the proceeds from counterfeit purchases fund illicit businesses.

If you have a customs seizure for alleged IPR violations, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at attorney.dave@yahoo.com or call/text: 832-896-6288.

US ICE seizes million websites in crackdown on

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As reported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website in late November, ICE agents seized over 1 million copyright-infringing website domain names that sold counterfeit electrical parts, personal care items, automotive parts and other fake and counterfeit goods.

The seizure was part of ICE’s “Operation In Our Sites” and roughly 33,600 website domain names were seized from 26 different countries. The press release indicates that a total of 1.21 million domain names were seized and shut down along with 2.2 million e-commerce links on social media platforms and other third-party marketplaces.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) claims counterfeit goods such as counterfeit airbags and sensors pose a potential safety hazard to drivers. In addition to a public safety hazard, counterfeit goods also fund criminal groups and other illegal activities. ICE and HSI are part of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) center established by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The IPR is comprised of 24 member agencies that share information, develop initiatives and conduct investigations.

If you have had your goods seized for alleged intellectual property rights violations, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate assistance.

$1.7 million in fake Nike shoes seized by CBP.

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According to the CBP media release, CBP officers in New York/Newark seized nearly 9,024 pairs of counterfeit Nike speakers. If genuine Nike products, the total value of the shipment equaled almost $1.7 million dollars.

The shipment of sneakers was from Dongguan City. Dongguan is a city in Guangdong (Canton) Province and borders Shenzhen and Hong Kong. When CBP suspects goods to be counterfeit, CBP will take photos and submit the photos or samples to the trademark holder. In this case CBP’s Apparel Footwear and Textiles Center for Excellence and Expertise sent the images to Nike where the images were determined to represent fake shoes.

The rest of the news release mentions ICE and Homeland Security Investigations will continue to investigate and look into the destination address in Chino, California. Given the value of the funds and the referral to ICE and HSI, it is likely CBP will look further into this shipment and may involve criminal charges for the importer of record.

If you have had your shipment seized on the basis of suspected counterfeit goods, or if you receive a penalty notice or seizure notice, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate assistance.

 

 

CBP seizes counterfeit dolls and toys with excessive lead levels.

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According to a Customs media release on September 14, 2018, CBP officers at the International Falls Port of Entry detained several rail containers transporting toys with counterfeit items and toys with prohibited lead levels.

Customs seized the first container of 2,459 die cast “transporter carry case” filled with toy cars for excessive lead levels.

The second container was seized for containing 5,460 fashion dolls that violated copyright protected markings. The media release claimed the suggested retail price was $139,145.

As Christmas and the holidays approaches, I believe this is only the beginning of more seizures. If you have had your shipments seized for intellectual property right violations, contact trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

USTR finalizes “List 2” of Section 301 duties on Chinese goods – tariffs begin on August 23rd.

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The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released a bulletin today finalizing “List 2” of the tariffs of Chinese products known as “Section 301” duties.

List 2 goods will be subject to an additional 25% tariff on goods from China starting August 23rd. Out of the 284 proposed tariff lines, only 5 tariff lines were removed by the USTR.

List 2 covers approximately $16 billion worth of imports from China. The Section 301 duties are the US response to China’s unfair trade practices related to the forced transfer of American technology and intellectual property.

List 1 went into effect on July 6th and covered about $34 billion of imports from China.

There is no word on when List 3 will be finalized but based on 1 and 2, I believe sometime in December 2018.

If you are importing a good subject to the 301 duties, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu for a free legal consultation on what our firm can do for you: attorney.dave@yahoo.com or 832.896.6288.

Customs broker and freight forwarder found liable for “use of a counterfeit mark in commerce”.

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A New Jersey U.S. District Court found a customs broker and freight forwarder liable for trademark infringements on Nike trademarks. The customs broker was ordered to pay $240,000 in damages and the freight forwarder will pay a yet undetermined amount.

The court held the broker and forwarder liable because they determined the arrangement of transportation and creation of documents related to the importation of the shipments constituted “use in commerce” of the Nike trademarks under the Lanham Act even though forwarder argued it had no physical control or knowledge of the shipments. Unfortunately for the broker and forwarder, the Lanham Act is a “strict liability statute” and does not consider intent or lack of intent in whether someone is liable. Speeding violations are the most common type of “strict liability statute” in that the act of speeding is the violation and it is not required to have the intent to speed. In this instance, the “use of a counterfeit mark in commerce” is the violation – with intent only a factor when determining the damages.

According to the case, (Nike, Inc. v. Eastern Ports Custom Brokers, Inc., et al., D.N.J. 2:11-cv-4390, July 19, 2018), the forwarder created the bill of lading, made arrangements for the cargo, and gave the broker a POA to act on behalf of the importer. The court ultimately found the broker and forwarder “played an active role in arranging for transportation” of the footwear and took “responsibility for the goods and making representations regarding the nature of the goods”. These actions were enough of an “use in commerce” under the Lanham Act and therefore liable for the trademark infringement.

One interesting note is the forwarder lost the case because they were in default after their lawyer withdrew in 2013. Default means a party to a lawsuit was properly served and noticed, but failed to make an appearance at any of the required hearings. For example, all parties are required to provide notice of trial dates and hearing dates. Proper notices were most likely sent by Nike to the forwarder – however, on the day of trial, no one made an appearance on behalf of the forwarder and as such lost the case for because they were in default. The forwarder, being in default, did not make an appearance and had no way to present any evidence to support their position.

Definitely an interesting case and the first time I’ve heard of a forwarder and broker liable for trademark infringement.

If you have any questions about this case and are would like to know how this ruling may impact your business as a broker or forwarder, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP seizes hundreds of fake World Cup soccer jerseys.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials in El Paso seized four shipments shipped from China containing counterfeit Mexican national team soccer jerseys. The estimated retail value of these jerseys, if authentic, totals $66,390.

Prior to this seizure, CBP also seized 4 other shipments with Mexico, Germany and Brazil team jerseys totaling $47,340.

The CBP media release claims counterfeit goods harm the competitiveness of legitimate businesses and the items may be of poor quality and contain health and safety hazards to consumers. El Paso has made close to 400 seizures of goods for intellectual property rights violations with a seized MSRP of more than $3.8 million.

If you or someone you know has had their shipments seized by Customs, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

The Office of the United States Trade Representatives releases special 301 report on Intellectual Property Rights.

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On April 27th, The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released their 2018 Special 301 report listing trading partners that do not “adequately or effectively protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights”.

The Report singles out several US trading partners to address IP-related issues and places certain countries on a “Watch List” and “Priority Watch List”.

As you may be aware, Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 authorizes the President to take all appropriate action, including retaliation, to obtain the removal of any act, policy, or practice of a foreign government that violates an international trade agreement or is unjustified, unreasonable, or discriminatory, and that burdens or restricts US commerce. Section 301 actions are unique in that they do not require authorization from the World Trade Organization (TWO) to take enforcement action.

The US Government estimates the Intellectual Property industries directly and indirectly support 30% of all employment in the United States (or about 45.5 million American jobs).

Some highlights of the 2018 Special 301 Report include:

1. The following 12 countries are on the “Priority Watch List” – Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

2. China is included on the “Priority Watch List” for the 14th year in a row and claims China’s technology transfer practices, trade secret theft, counterfeit manufacturing etc.

3. India is also included on the “Priority Watch List” for “longstanding challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient measurable improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement, as well as for new issues that have negatively affected U.S. right holders over the past year.”

4. Canada was surprisingly indicated on the “Priority Watch List” instead of their usual “Watch List” status. The USTR cited Customs inability to inspect or detained counterfeit or pirated good shipped through Canada and IP protections for pharmaceuticals among others.

The full Spectial 301 Report can be read here.

If you have any questions about this report, feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.