U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a large amount of counterfeit clothing from a traveler that was arriving from Vietnam. To the best of my knowledge, it is a pretty rare occurrence when Customs encounters somebody who is traveling from overseas with a lot of counterfeit clothing.
Typically, counterfeit importations are just subject to seizure. In other words, the ‘penalty’ is loss of the goods through government seizure and forfeiture. However, Customs can impose monetary penalties under 19 USC 1526(f) on “any person who directs, assists … aids and abets [in] the importation of merchandise for sale or public distribution” once the property is seized.
By bringing in such a large quantity of counterfeits this person may have exposed themselves to a monetary penalty (to the tune of the MSRP of $22,000) because Customs may presume that the large quantities means that is must have been intended for sale or public distribution. It could be that it was meant for public sale or distribution, or it could just be that all these articles were intended for personal use and the buyer just got carried away with buying them. Here’s the story:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport seized 220 clothing items with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of just over $22,000 found in a passenger’s checked luggage.
CBP officers conducted an inspection of a passenger arriving from Vietnam with six checked bags and discovered multiple clothing items in commercial quantities that appeared to be counterfeit, violating intellectual property rights.
The counterfeit items included 82 different Adidas products ranging from tank tops to windbreakers, 36 different Abercrombie items, 65 Chanel pieces, 12 Nike sweatshirts, 15 Ralph Lauren items, and an assortment of other name brand designers. The seized items did not appear to be of the quality consistent with legitimate goods as the items included unusual lettering and labeling and the markings on the clothing were not manufactured by the trademark holders.
“Counterfeit items even in small quantities is an IPR violation and adversely affects unsuspecting consumers, businesses and our economy,” said Port Director Cleatus Hunt. “This type of seizure typically occurs through other commercial shipping means, however, we will take any opportunity to intercept the smuggling of counterfeit goods. This seizure in the airport environment represents our commitment to enforcing priority trade issues.”
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: