Importing Refurbished Cell Phones and Customs Seizures.

iPhone Housing

Today’s blog post is in response to our firm seeing an increase in the number of importers having their Samsung or Apple phones seized by Customs.

Typically, our client is a company in the United States that purchases used Apple iPhones or Samsung Galaxy phones from the US. The used phones vary anywhere from A to C stock and may have broken screens, defective home buttons, scratched, dented or damaged housing or cracked camera lens. Some phones are store demos with burn-in on the screens, customer returns or old, new stock. The phones are packaged and then sent to China for repair and refurbishing. The fixed phones are then sent back to the US for sale through wholesalers and distributors.

However, as the phones are shipped back to the company in the US, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detains shipments to review whether or not the cell phones violate any intellectual property rights (IPR).

CBP will first detain the phones and has 30-days to speak to the trademark or IPR holder to determine the authenticity of the trademark or IPR. The trademark could be the “Samsung” logo, the “Apple” logo or even the “iPhone” trademark printed in text on the back of the phones. More often than not, the shipped phones change from being “detained” to being “seized”.

The majority of the seizures are due to trademarks found on the rear housing of the phones. As most importers cannot provide authorization by the trademark or IPR holder the right to use the mark, CBP considers the importer phones to be counterfeit and are then subsequently seized.

If you have had your refurbished iPhone or Samsung phone seized by Customs, call experienced cell phone seizure attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. There are certain time limitations after a seizure has occurred so contact David Hsu today.

Taiwan requests WTO consultations with the US over the Trump administration’s tariffs on solar cells.

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After the Trump administration announced tariffs on solar modules and cell manufacturers for the next 5 years with tariff rates starting at 30%, Taiwan submitted a request for a consultation with the US regarding these duties.

Taiwan’s January 29th filing states:

“Having a substantial interest as an exporter in this case, the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu requests consultations with United States under Article 12.3 of the Agreement on Safeguards with a view to, inter alia, exchanging views on the proposed measure and reaching an understanding on ways to achieve the objective set out in Article 8.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards,”

Taiwan is also one of the world’s leading PV manufacturing industries and approximately 13 GW of solar cell manufacturing capability.

More updates to follow if and when a consultation occurs.

If your company imports solar modules and PV cells subject to these dumping rates or you want to know whether your imports are within the scope of the order, call experienced antidumping and countervailing duty attorney David Hsu for a free consultation, 832-896-6288, dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Bassett Mirror Company to pay $10.5 million for allegations of evading customs duties.

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According to a January 16, 2018 Department of Justice press release – Virginia based home furniture company, Bassett Mirror Company (Bassett) will pay $10.5 million to resolve allegations that Bassett violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by “knowingly making false statements on customs declarations to avoid paying antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the People’s Republic of China (PRC)”.

Wooden bedroom furniture from the People’s Republic Of China is covered under case number: A-570-890 and the scope includes:


The product covered by the order is wooden bedroom furniture. Wooden bedroom furniture is generally, but not exclusively, designed, manufactured, and offered for sale in coordinated groups, or bedrooms, in which all of the individual pieces are of approximately the same style and approximately the same material and/or finish. The subject merchandise is made substantially of wood products, including both solid wood and also engineered wood products made from wood particles, fibers, or other wooden materials such as plywood, oriented strand board, particle board, and fiberboard, with or without wood veneers, wood overlays, or laminates, with or without non-wood components or trim such as metal, marble, leather, glass, plastic, or other resins, and whether or not assembled, completed, or finished.

Since 2004, imports of wooden beddroom furniture from China have been subject to dumping duties and the current PRC rate is 216 percent.

The US Department of Justice alleged that for a five year period (2009 to 2014), Bassett evaded payment of antidumping duties owed by misclassifying the furniture as non-bedroom furniture on import documents. By classifying imports as “non-bedroom furniture”, Bassett avoiding paying the duty rate of 216%.

In general, antidumping duties are imposed against foreign companies for “dumping” products into the US market at prices below cost. Most of the foreign companies are located in “non market economy” countries such as People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. By imposing anti dumping duties on goods, the US Department of Commerce is attempting to protect US businesses and “level the playing field” for domestically manufactured products.

Given the current administration in the White House, we can expect the Department of Justice, CBP, and Commerce to further strengthen their enforcement of antidumping duties for any and all goods entering the US.

If you are not sure whether your imports from China are considered “wooden bedroom furniture, or if you have been alleged to violate the false claims act by misclassifying imports, avoiding payment of duties or any other import and export related claim from the US government, contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com immediately. There is no cost for the initial consultation and in most instances, time limits to take action are running – don’t miss your chance, contact us today.

Serbia and Turkey sign new free trade agreement.

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According to a B92.net news article, Serbia and Turkey signed a new free trade agreement. The signing took place on January 30th and will allow Serbia duty-free exports to Turkey of beef, raw and refined sunflower oil, sunflower seeds and some milling products.

In addition to duty free exports, quotas for certain types of frozen fruit exports to Turkey will also be doubled.

Pennsylvania-based hat company settles with FTC regarding deceptive “Made in USA” claims.

American Made Matters

Screenshot of their “American Made Matters” logo from their website: http://www.americanmadematters.com

 

According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) press release on January 23, 2018, Pennsylvania-based Bollman Hat Company (wholly-owned subsidiary of SaveAnAmericanJob, LLC) settled with the FTC regarding the use of their “American Made Matters” certification and marketing materials.

The FTC complaint initially claimed the Bollman Hat Company deceived consumers with “Made in USA” claims for their hats and other products. In addition to the “Made in USA” claims, the hats were marketed with other taglines such as “American Matters,” “Choose American,” and “Made in USA since 1868.”

However, the FTC found that 70 percent or more of their hat styles are imported as finished products. The complaint alleged the remaining styles contained significant amounts of imported content. Claiming “Made in USA” is a high standard that is not met by most manufacturers. In order to avoid FTC issues, some manufacturers qualify their “Made in USA” claims with additional language such as – “Made in USA from domestic and foreign components” or “Assembled in the USA”.

Also according to the FTC complaint, the Bollman Hat Company used an “American Made Matters” seal on their products, and also licensed that “American Made Matters” seal to any company that claimed they had a US based manufacturing factory. The Bollman Hat Company also charged a $99 per year licensing fee and also required manufacturers to certify that at least 50% of the cost of their products was incurred in the US with final assembly or substantial transformation in the US.

As part of their settlement with the FTC, Bollman and subsidiaries are no longer able to make US origin claims for their products unless they can show final assembly or processing takes place in the US. Under the FTC order, any qualified Made in USA claims must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients, and/or processing.

For the past year, the FTC has increased prosecution of deceptive “Made in USA” claims as the Bollman case is the third case in the past year.

There will be a public comment period through February 23, 2018 before the FTC order becomes final.

If you have any questions regarding whether your manufactured good is “Made in USA” , deceptive claims, any other “Made in the USA” issue; or wish to file comments with the FTC, contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Consultations are free and all calls and emails are confidential.

CBP agriculture specialists intercept pest found in used vehicles from Germany.

Agriculture

Photo of the moth from the CBP media release.

The U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) agriculture specialists in Florida found a potentially destructive pest while inspecting a shipment of used vehicles from Germany.

This is the first time CBP has intercepted this pest in the United States. The pest found was the Tortricidae moth, also commonly known as the tortrix moth or leafroller moth.

CBP considers the Tortricidae moth to be a serious pest because the moth often feeds on fruits of apple and peach crops.

This interception was just one of the tens of thousands of actional pests seized by CBP agriculture specialists.

If Customs has seized any of your imports or you received a letter from any of the US agencies regarding seized property, call David Hsu, we work hard to get you your items back, 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com

Baltimore CBP and the CPSC Seize Children’s “Activity Cubes” due to Potential Choking Hazard.

ToyScreengrab

Above photo is a screengrab from the Customs website showing the seized children’s mini activity cubes.

As the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) functions as the USA’s border security agency – CBP enforces hundreds of laws from different agencies. For example, CBP may seize imported automotive parts that violate Department of Transportation regulations or CBP may seize counterfeit and tainted foods products that violate Food and Drug Administration rules.

On January 15th, CBP officers in Baltimore examined a shipment of toys valued at $5,600 from Hong Kong and submitted samples of the toys to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). CBP officers initially sent this sample to the CPSC because the toys appeared to contain potential choking hazards.

CPSC subsequently tested the activity cubes and determined the toys violated the small parts requirement of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act [15 USC §1263]. A copy of the FHSA can be found at this link: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/fhsa.pdf

Unfortunately for this importer, they won’t be able to get their goods and may face further penalties from Customs. If you have had your imports seized by Customs due to DOT, CPSC, FDA or any of the other alphabet soup of government agency regulations, please call David Hsu at 832.896.6288, or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com, free consultations.

Dulles CBP seizes over $143k in currency from travelers to and from Ghana.

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According to a January 18, 2018 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release, CBP officers seized $143,968.00 in unreported currency. The seizure occurred at Washington Dulles International Airport and reflected the combined total of currency seized during three separate incidents from travelers departing and arriving from Ghana.

On Sunday, a man arriving from Ghana reported possessing $10,000 in currency. Upon subsequent inspection CBP found an additional $10,000 wrapped in a t-shirt in the man’s carryon baggage.

Also on Sunday, CBP seized over $100,000 in cash from a man heading to Ghana who initially claimed to carry $2,000. Subsequent search by CBP found $10,000 each in 10 bank envelopes in the man’s carryon backpack.

The day before, CBP seized over $23,000 from a man bound for Ghana after a currency detector dog alerted CBP officers to the traveler’s carryon baggage.

On Saturday, CBP officers seized $23,826 from a man bound for Ghana after a currency detector dog alerted to his carry-on bag. The man initially reported that he possessed $5,000. A baggage exam revealed $23,826 in a suit jacket and camera bag.

Unfortunately for these travelers, CBP seized the entire funds, and only providing about $1,000 to each traveler as a “humanitarian monetary release”.

If you have had a currency seizure at Dulles, IAH, LAX or any other port of entry to the US, call David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email dhsu@givensjohnston.com at anytime for a free consultation. We work hard to get your money back.

Boston CBP Officers find $10k in cash sewn into arriving passenger’s pants.

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According to a CBP Public Affairs media release – on January 18, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Logan International Airport seized more than $29,000 in undeclared currency from a traveler arriving on a flight from Israel.

The traveler (a U.S. Citizen), initially told CBP he was carrying $7,000 for him and an additional $7,000 for a friend. A subsequent baggage examination resulted in a finding of about $18,000 total. Upon even further inspection (which will always happen), CBP found an additional $10,000 sewn into the pockets of the pants belonging to the traveler.

As a general rule, travelers can carry as much cash and other forms of currency into and out of the United States as long as all amounts greater than $10,000 are reported on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form (FinCen 105 form).

Unfortunately for this traveler, how the money was concealed and the subsequent seizure means he will have to petition CBP to get back his money.

If you or anyone you know has had currency seized at an airport, seaport, or any other port of entry by CBP, call David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email dhsu@givensjohnston.com for immediate assistance. Certain time limitations apply so call 832.896.6288 for a free consultation and to start getting your money back.