Counterfeit Sports Championship Rings Seized.

Champ Rings
Image of counterfeit rings, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Chicago seized a shipment from China containing counterfeit championship rings in mid-September. The shipment contained 86 rings celebrating championships from sports teams such as the Chicago Bulls, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals among others.

CBP Officers and the trade experts at the Centers of Excellence and Expertise determined the rings were counterfeit because the rings were of poor quality. The MSRP of the rings, if authentic would equal approximately $2.38 million.

This shipment was just one of the over 27,599 shipments containing counterfeit goods in 2019 – in which the total value of seized goods totaled over $1.5 billion.

If you have had your shipments seized for suspicion of counterfeit goods, contact David Hsu by phone/text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$57 million in designer watches seized by Customs.

Counterfeit watches, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Louisville, Kentucky seized a shipment last Saturday of 32 separate shipments containing counterfeit designer watches valued at $57.84 million dollars, if authentic. Some of the counterfeits were branded Rolex and Richard Mille.

The 32 separate shipments contained 2,168 watches that were determined to be counterfeit by CBP’s experts at the various CEE departments. The watches were from Hong Kong where approximately 25% of the counterfeit goods seized originate.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288; or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com for assistance.

Are CBD pipes “drug paraphernalia” and subject to Customs import seizure?

photo of marijuana edibles on dark background
Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

Our clients have recently experienced an increase in seizures of glass pipes and water pipes (among other items) used for the sole purpose of smoking Cannabidiol-laden hemp (CBD). As you are aware, CBD was legalized by the Federal Government under the Farm Bill of 2018. Additionally, multiple states have also taken measures to legalize smoking of CBD and Congress has been silent on prohibiting smokable hemp.

If you have had a shipment of CBD goods seized for drug paraphernalia, we may be able to help – contact David Hsu by phone/text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com; DH@GJATradeLaw.com.

$4.2 million in fake jewelry seized.

Image of seized good, source: CBP.gov

According to a CBP media release – officers in Cincinnati seized a shipment in late March containing jewelry with name brands such as Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Pandora, Cartier, Dior, Gucci and more. When suspected counterfeit goods are seized, samples and photos of the seized goods are sent to a CBP Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) where the shipment is further evaluated. At the CEE, an import specialist will determine whether the jewelry is real – one method is through verification with the property right holder.

While the declared value on the shipment was $119, the actual value of the seized goods, if authentic would total more than $4.2 million dollars.

I am frequently asked why customs uses the “if authentic” value versus the declared value – since the declared value is likely more accurate to what the seized goods actually cost.

The main reason is Customs will use the “if authentic” value when issuing fines to the importer of record. And perhaps the most obvious reason to only use the “if authentic” value is for impact. A $4.2 million seizure is much more impactful than a $119 seizure of counterfeit goods.

If you or anyone you know has had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP seizes $91,000 in currency – could you be next?

$91,000+ in seized currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at the Larredo, Texas Juarez-Lincoln Bridge seized $91,000 in unreported currency from a 30-year old male US citizen headed to Mexico.

When the male driver’s 2017 Chevrolet Equinox was referred to secondary inspection, CBP found $91,116 in undeclared US currency. This press release indicates CBP turned the case over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.

In general, if your currency case is referred from CBP to Homeland Security, they believe the source of the funds may be from illegal activity and you will need to prepare a very strong seizure petition if you want your currency returned (minus a remission fee).

If you have had your hard-earned currency seized, contact David Hsu for immediate assistance at 832-896-6288 by phone or text. You can also email anytime at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Unapproved Viagra RX seized.

Image of seized Viagra pills, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release – CBP officers in Louisville, Kentucky seized over 618 bottles of Viagra containing about 18,540 pills. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized the pills for being misbranded – a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).

Since the pills were being imported, they were likely purchased online and may have been produced abroad and seized by the FDA on the basis the pills were from a non-regulated foreign company and may contain da ngerous compounds, with different ingredients and poor quality control.

I-f you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact seizure attorney 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.

Counterfeit AirPods seized in Houston – over $1.6 million worth.

Seized AirPods, source: cbp.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP working in Houston in late January seized counterfeit electronics – including Apple’s “AirPods” worth more than $1.6 million dollars of MSRP value. According to the media release – the importer of record abandoned the merchandise, meaning CBP will destroy the goods.

Do you have to abandon your goods if they have been seized for intellectual property rights violations?
No, you do not – the other alternative is to petition for the release of the goods if you know they are authentic. While a petition does not guarantee a return of your goods, it gives you the opportunity to present your information and argue why the goods are authentic to CBP.

The remainder of the media release reiterated CBP’s arguments against counterfeit goods – (1) may be produced from forced labor, (2) economic harm to the trademark holder, (3) unsafe products that may cause injuries to the consumer.

If you or anyone you know has had your shipment seized for alleged intellectual property or trademark violations – contact David Hsu 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.