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.

Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019.

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Photo by Florian Köppen on Pexels.com

In early December 2019, the Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019 was introduced in the U.S. Senate to allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enforce design patents at the border.

Currently, Customs has the power to enforce only copyrights and trademarks that have been previously recorded with Customs under Section 1595a(c)(2)(C) of Title 19 of the U.S. Code.

The new bill amends amending 19 U.S.C. § 1595a(c)(2)(C) to allow Customs discretionary power to seize and detain imported goods that infringe upon a recorded U.S. design patent.

The reason for this bill is because counterfeiters are capable of producing nearly 1 to 1 replicas of goods that avoid seizure by Customs because the counterfeit goods do not include the infringing trademark.

For example, in 2018, counterfeiters imported over $70 million in fake Nike shoes similar to the Air Jordan line and avoided customs by not including the trademarked logos – not surprisingly, Nike is one prominent supporter of the new bill.

If the bill passes, future counterfeit Air Jordan shoes omitting any trademarked labels would be subject to seizure as Customs would now be able to enforce design patents.

If you have had a seizure for suspected violations of intellectual property or 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.

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.

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

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Photo by Marx Ilagan on Pexels.com

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.