$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.

Over $300,000 in unreported currency seized in P.R

Image of seized funds in PR, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Puerto Rico seized $348,940 in undeclared currency hidden inside wooden tables and a sink found inside a 1989 Ford cargo truck. The shipment was destined to an address in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In general, there is no limit to how much currency (cash, checks, traveler’s checks, foreign currency) can be importer or exported by travelers. However, any amount over $10,000, however federal law requires travelers to report to CBP any amount exceeding $10,000 in US dollars or the equivalent in foreign currency. When the funds over $10,000 are not reported or are under-reported, CBP may seize the currency and may lead to an arrest.

If you have any questions about what to do BEFORE you travel and are carrying over $10,000, give David Hsu a call, or text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Massive amount of counterfeit coins and fake $100 bills seized by Customs.

Images of seized $100 bills, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP in Chicago seized 279 parcels containing multiple denominations in coin currency. The shipment consisted of 88 packages containing 2,020 coins with subsequent seizures containing 93 packages and over 2,548 coins. The third and fourth seizure contained 52 parcels of 908 counterfeit coins and 46 parcels containing 1,191 coins. CBP reports most of the coins were collector items bearing images of a buffalo, bald eagle or native Americans stamped on the coins. The packages were seized on suspicion of being counterfeit.

In addition to coins, CBP also seized multiple packages containing $149,200 and $9,700 in counterfeit 100 dollar bills. While the shipments were manifested as “bar props”, CBP still seized the counterfeit currency because copying Federal Reserve notes is a federal offense.

I often see counterfeit $100 bills for sale on popular online shopping websites that rhyme with “dish” located in China and selling play money labeled as “prop money”. If you are the importer of record, CBP may (likely will) seize the fake money, even if the words “prop money” are written on the face of the bill, the currency is still a copy of real currency and therefore illegal to import.

If you have had your goods seized, whether it is collector coins from China or copies of $100 bills, contact David Hsu by phone text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com anytime for immediate assistance.

Unapproved Juul pods seized by CBP.

Image of seized Juul pods, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protections media release, officers in Indianapolis over 10,000 Juul Pods shipped from Ontario, Canada to New York and New Jersey. The shipments were seized because they were misbranded consumer goods imported by an unauthorized agent.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) governs the importation of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. However, the basis of this seizure was likely under 19 USC 1499(a)(3)(a) unspecified articles and 19 USC 1595(c)(1) merchandise introduced contrary to law because the packages were labeled as an “electrical apparatus”.

If you have had your goods seized and you received a seizure notice alleging violations of 19 USC 1499 and 19 USC 1595, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email 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

Import drug paraphernalia only if you want to get it seized.

Image of dabbers, source: CBP.gov

I get monthly calls from importers who had their shipment seized as drug paraphernalia. In general, anything that is used to produce, conceal and consume illicit drugs is considered drug paraphernalia.

In late December, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Chicago seized shipments of packages that contained dabbers and quartz banger nails. These are considered paraphernalia as they can be used to vaporize cannabis on a bong.

Importers of drug paraphernalia could be subject to fines and imprisonment. If you have had your drug paraphernalia shipment seized, 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.