CBP Seizes $1.3M Worth of Counterfeit Toys

This is an odd story about a counterfeit seizure case because it’s unclear how customs determined the value of the seizure. Typically, the value of counterfeit seized merchandise is based on it’s MSRP; in other words, what the cost of the goods would be if they were genuine. In this case, the reason the product is counterfeit is an alleged “UL” logo — on what would otherwise be allowed imports, apparently.  Is customs valuing the added value of the UL mark? It is a point I would raise in any petition filed for mitigation of the penalty. The importers should expect to receive a notice of penalty from customs in the next few months.

Laredo, Texas – The Import Specialist Enforcement Team (ISET) at U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Laredo Port of Entry seized a total of 18 commercial shipments of counterfeit rechargeable toys over the summer, for allegedly infringing on the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) registered and recorded U.S. trademark. The total value of the shipments is nearly $1.3 million.

In the 18 enforcement actions, recently finalized, CBP import specialists from World Trade Bridge selected shipments of rechargeable toys for examination. During the examinations, CBP import specialists noticed that the Customs Penalty for Counterfeit UL Logobattery chargers accompanying each rechargeable toy all bore the UL trademark, which is a U.S. registered trademark recorded with CBP. ISET conducted a review and discovered that the shipments lacked legal authorization documentation to use the recorded trademark   A lead enforcement manager for UL confirmed that the use of their trademark was unauthorized and infringing on their recorded trademark. Given the foregoing, CBP’s ISET determined that the rechargeable toys in the shipments seized bore counterfeit trademarks and were subject to seizure. In these 18 enforcement actions, from late June to early September 2014, CBP subsequently seized a total of 4,671 rechargeable toys, which, had the trademark been genuine, is valued based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, in the amount of $1,292,953.00.

“Our ISET has done it again and through their diligence and attention to detail they prevented toys with chargers baring a counterfeit trademark from entering U.S. commerce and potentially causing harm to children,” said Joseph Misenhelter, CBP port director, Laredo Port of Entry. “Preserving Intellectual Property Rights and import safety are priority trade issues for CBP and our enforcement of these laws helps create a level playing field for all and strengthens the U.S. economy.”

How would you like to cough up $1.3 million for importing goods that bear a counterfeit logo into the United States? Like we have explained previously, this importer stands to face a hefty penalty for this customs counterfeit seizure.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles: