I am sharing this news releases from Customs & Border Protection because it has to deal with topics that we have discussed in previous articles, namely seizures by CBP for counterfeit importations. We previously discussed the notion of gray market goods and touched on the topic of counterfeit imports in our article called Trademark Infringement: Importing Gray Market Goods and Seizure by Customs. This article only says that the bags were “in violation of the Hermes protected trademark” but does not specifically say how they were in violation; because the news release goes on to say that these bags were concealed within a shipment of non-infringing merchandise it seems unlikely that this was an innocent mistake by an inexperienced importer. It shows an intent to commit a fraud.
Los Angeles — U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport complex seized 16,053 counterfeit Hermes handbags in nine shipments from June 6 through September 17. All were in violation of the Hermes protected trademark.
Their combined domestic value of $295,665 contrasted to the manufacturer suggested retail price of $210,785,475 had they been genuine, illustrates the potentially high profit margins in such an illegal venture.
“CBP officers are trained to identify and interdict counterfeit goods, and this is a great example of how their training and expertise are employed every day in our ports of entry,” said CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles Todd C. Owen. “These counterfeiters are not only cheating the legitimate designers and manufacturers of protected trademark merchandise, but also the public and the U.S. government,” he added.
Eight of the shipments were coming from China, one from China via Hong Kong. Two had the knock-offs hidden in the nose of the containers with concealing attempts of packing legitimate, non-infringing merchandise behind them.
Five different importers sent the shipments. All were destined to surrounding areas of Los Angeles except for one destined to Texas.
Approximately $1.26 billion worth of counterfeit goods originating overseas were seized by CBP in 2012. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Taiwan are the top five countries of origination for counterfeit goods seized by CBP.
Nationwide, handbags and wallets comprised the greatest number of counterfeit items seized by CBP last year, with the value of seizures up 142 percent compared to 2011. Of the approximately $511 million in handbags and wallets seized, more than $446 million came from China.
Violations of trade laws, including violations of intellectual property rights laws can be reported to CBP online. ( e-Allegations Submission )
It looks like someone is going to be getting a notice of penalty CBP’s Fines, Penalties and Forfeiture’s office very soon. If you are facing penalties from CBP for items you have imported or for your import practices, call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page.