CBP seizes more than $650k worth of fake Apple AirPods.

Image of seized counterfeit AirPod, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the LA/Long Beach seaport (one of the top 4 busiest US ports) seized over 2,400 pairs of counterfeit wireless earphones along with 14,220 charging cables. CBP estimates the value of the seized goods, if authentic to be worth $651,780. The goods were seized for violating Apple’s airpod and lightning registered trademarks (see image of a sample of the actual AirPods and cables seized).

If you have had your shipment seized for suspicion of violating trademarks, contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com to discuss your options.

Trump administration focusing on stopping online sale of counterfeit goods.

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According to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security last week, the Trump administration is taking “immediate action” against the sale of counterfeit goods by fining and issuing other penalties to online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.

Click here for the full report of the “Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods – Report to the President of the United States“.

Other parts of the plan include suspending repeat offenders, issuing civil fines and penalties and investigating and prosecuting intellectual property violations throughout the supply chain. While the goal of the new plan was in the report, details of actual new measures to be taken were not.

The recently issued report is a result of President Trump’s call to action for the Department of Homeland Security to look at slowing the sale of counterfeit goods on third-party websites like eBay and Amazon.

Last year, the US government seized over 28,000 shipments containing counterfeit goods valued at about $1.5 billion dollars.

If you were the importer of record and received a seizure notice for importing goods that were determined to be counterfeit by Customs – contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP seizes counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags.

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Image of seized handbags, source: CBP.gov

As reported by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), officers in Philadelphia seized 37 counterfeit LV handbags from Hong Kong with a suggested retail proce of $130,610 if authentic. 

According to the media release, the box contents were described as “Lady Bag Sample.” Upon inspection by CBP and with the CEE for Consumer Products and Mass Merchandise Center and the trademark holder – determined the bags were counterfeit.

If you receive a seizure notice for violation of trademarks or other intellectual property, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com – there are somethings you can do to protect yourself from potential civil and criminal penalties – but you need to take action within a certain time limit. For immediate assistance, call/text 832-896-6288.

CBP conducts anti-counterfeit operations in New Orleans.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in the New Orleans Field Office partnered with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for their “Operation Safety Claus”. As indicated by the name of the operation, “Operation Safety Claus” is a joint anti-counterfeiting law enforcement operation in metro New Orleans to target the importation of counterfeit goods during the holiday season.

According to the press release, in the past few weeks, CBP officers have seized items such as makeup, contact lenses, hair products, eyelashes, and clothing. During the Halloween holiday, CBP seized an increase in items like contact lenses, makeup and other cosmetics. CBP warns counterfeit goods may contain bacteria, heavy metals, or other toxins that pose a health risk.

As in all their media releases related to counterfeit goods, CBP highlighted the public safety risk of counterfeit goods, the sale of counterfeit goods to fund illicit activities and crime and restated their counterfeit seizure figures.

If your property has been seized by CBP, you must respond or risk a civil penalty down the road and a loss of your shipment. Contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

HSI New Orleans Deputy Special Agent in Charge Gilbert S. Trill explained that selling and purchasing counterfeit items is an intellectual property crime, often used to fund international and transnational criminal organizations. These crimes can also have an adverse effect on the United States, in terms of reduced innovation, repressed job markets, and reduced quality. Additionally, it puts the public at risk with little recourse.

“You’re not going to be able to sue an illegal activity or transnational criminal organization,” he said.

On a typical day in 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection alone seized $3.7 million worth of products with Intellectual Property Rights violations, with the IPR industry topping $ billion nationally. Many of these products are shipped through mail facilities throughout the country.

“The discovery and interception of counterfeit merchandise that pose safety hazards to our citizens is an illustration of how CBP works every single day to keep dangerous goods from the commerce of the United States,” said Mark S. Choina, Assistant Port Director, Trade, Port of New Orleans.

The New Orleans office of HSI covers Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, while the New Orleans CBP office covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee. For more information on IPR, visit https://www.cbp.gov/trade/priority-issues/ipr.

5,200 counterfeit refrigerator water filters seized.

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Image of seized water filters, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), CBP officers at LA/Long Beach port seized 5,202 counterfeit refrigerator water filters that if genuine would have an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $224,202.

The counterfeit filters contained trademarks registered by Brita, GE, Frigidaire, PUR and NSF Certification. As you are aware, trademark owners can register their trademark and CBP will seize infringing use of such trademarks.

The filters were shipped from China and were to be delivered to an address in Washington.

If you or anyone you know has had a shipment seized for suspected infringement of trademarks, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

$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.

 

 

Homeland Security records largest counterfeit seizure ever – $500 million.

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A little bit of background – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is a component of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE is a federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and responsible for enforcing over 400 federal statutes within the United States.

Last Thursday (August 16th, 2018) was the culmination of a six year investigation into the importation and sale of fake luxury goods – ending with HSI officials reported seizing enough counterfeit luxury bags and belts to fill 22 shipping containers and the arrest of 33 people, all of Chinese descent.

HSI reported the seized goods included popular luxury brands “including Gucci, Tory Burch, Hermes, Coach, Burberry, Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton” along with knockoff Chanel perfume.

With an estimated loss in retail value of nearly $500 million, this seizure is the largest counterfeit seizure in history, besting the 2012 seizure of $325 million worth of fake goods.

If you have had problems with CBP seizing goods due to alleged counterfeit or trademark violations, call experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

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.

$233,000 Worth of Counterfeit Watches Seized by Customs.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release on March 1st; CBP officers in Philadelphia seized 54 counterfeit designer brand watches.

CBP officers examined the parcel on January 23rd that was shipped from Hong Kong. The packing list indicated the shipment as containing “watch samples” and upon further inspection, CBP found watches bearing name brands such as Armani, Hublot, Omega,
Rado, Rolex and others. If authentic, the MSRP for the watches totaled $233,209.

As you may or may not know, CBP is tasked with enforcing the intellectual property laws of companies who register their brand with Customs. In this instance, CBP officers with the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Centers for Excellence and Expertise (CEE) inspected the watches, worked with the trademark holders and confirmed the watches were counterfeit.

Some of the tell-tale signs of counterfeit watches include but are not limited to: poor quality packaging of the watch, watch construction (weight, dial movement) and the origin of shipment (from Hong Kong).

CBP frequently seizes counterfeit goods and on a typical day in 2017, CBP seized $3.3 million worth of products for intellectual property rights violations.

If you or someone you know has had your import seized due to counterfeit or trademark violations, contact experienced Customs attorney, David Hsu. Customs can penalize importers civil and criminal penalties, and time there are certain time limitations – call  832.896.6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com today.

CBP seizes fake perfume valued over $31 million.

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In the past few months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists in the seaport at Los Angeles have seized over 475,000 bottles of imported perfume bearing counterfeit trademarks. While the cost of the counterfeit perfumes may be low, if genuine, CBP estimates the MSRP of the seized perfumes to retail over $31 million.

CBP’s fiscal year starts October 1, 2017 and since then, CBP officials in Los Angeles have seized 11 shipments with suspected counterfeit marks along with confusingly similar fragrances. As you are aware, CBP enforces the trademarks for companies registered with CBP. The seizues included violations of trademarks belonging to over 34 perfume brands.

According to the CBP news release, the “counterfeit brands included Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Coach, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Guess, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Victoria Secret, and Perry Ellis among others.”

As a general rule, if you purchase perfume at prices “too good to be true”, it is likely the item is counterfeit. The news release indicates the counterfeit perfumes were packaged in boxes and colors resembling the genuine items with fake country of origin markings (“Made in France”) even though the port of origin was China.

CBP is especially vigilent in seizing suspected counterfeit perfumes as these items are placed on the skin and absorbed by the body – counterfeit perfumes may be composed of chemicals harmful to the body and may be made and sold without any product testing.

In FY 2016, CBP seized over $1.4 billion worth of counterfeit goods – if you have had your imports seized and want to speak to an experienced attorney, call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate assistance.