CBP Seizes Passenger’s Fake Designer Wallets

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a large amount of counterfeit wallets from a traveler that was arriving from Japan. 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 items. Usually it would be sent through commercial means.

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 (the equivalent of the MSRP of these items, if they were genuine) 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:

A few of the counterfeit Burberry wallet seized assets by CBP.
A few of the counterfeit Burberry wallet seized assets by customs.

DALLAS – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport seized counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Burberry wallets, valued at $32,000. The items were seized Aug. 4 and destined for Ruston, Louisiana.

CBP officers conducted an inspection of a passenger arriving from Narita, Japan with checked bags. During the inspection, officers discovered 58 brand-named wallets that appeared to be counterfeit. The traveler admitted the items he packed were counterfeit. The items did not appear to be of the quality consistent with legitimate goods as the items included unusual labeling and the markings on the wallets were not manufactured by the trademark holders.
Counterfeit Burberry wallets were among those seized from a traveler’s suitcase.

Louis Vuitton counterfeits were also seized by customs.
Louis Vuitton counterfeits were also seized by customs. The combined value totaled at $32.

“Packing counterfeit merchandise in suitcases doesn’t release passengers from their obligation to adhere to U.S. import laws,” said Dallas CBP Port Director Cleatus Hunt. “This seizure protects the trademark holder, their businesses and their employees and denies the counterfeiter from reaping profits from the sale of illegitimate goods.”

On a typical day in fiscal year 2014, CBP officers around the country seized more than $3.4 million worth of products because of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations. Since 2007, CBP identified IPR enforcement as a priority trade mission. For additional statistics and a list of the most popular counterfeit items and their worth visit the fiscal year 2014 IPR report.

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: