Customs recently seized some counterfeit merchandise being imported through the port of Philadelphia. Yesterday, we began the first part of our series on what happens when a person or business imports counterfeit merchandise into the United States (please read the article, but I’ll give you a hint: it’s not good). As this customs news release points out, the reasons why customs seizes counterfeit merchandise is often more than just to protect the U.S. trademark holder, but because counterfeit products are often of lower quality and could cause serious harm to the consumers who use them. Read the article below with my own notes written in bold for a play-by-play of how the process of this seizure of counterfeit merchandise plays out.
PHILADELPHIA – The unofficial start to summer arrives in about two weeks, and as is customary, people are feverishly working on sculpting and toning their summer physique. Unfortunately, disreputable organizations know this too, and they prey on that motivation to sell under priced and potentially dangerous counterfeit exercise equipment and technology.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Philadelphia recently seized 36 boxes of counterfeit BeachBody Focus T25 DVDs, and 12 boxes of counterfeit BeachBody P90X3 DVDs, worth an estimated $5,800 MSRP. [NOTE: As we will see in Part 2 of our series on counterfeit trademark customs seizures, MSRP is important when it comes to calculating the penalty the customs will issue to the importer].
The counterfeit DVDs arrived from Hong Kong in two separate shipments and were destined for two addresses in Philadelphia. CBP officers examined the shipments and detained them April 1 to determine their authenticity with the trademark holder, BeachBody. [NOTE: Customs contacts the trademark holder prior to formally detaining the merchandise to determine if the product is truly a counterfeit.]
Philadelphia CBP seized two parcels of BeachBody exercise DVS April 25, 2014.CBP simultaneously worked with the importer and broker to obtain specific authorization from the trademark holder permitting it to import BeachBody products. Neither was able to provide an authorization letter from BeachBody. [NOTE: If the importer has the consent of the trademark holder to import counterfeit merchandise, or if it can obtain permission from the trademark holder prior to forfeiture, it’s possible to get the counterfeits released from seizure].
BeachBody confirmed that the products were counterfeit. CBP seized both shipments April 25 for a violation of 19 USC 1526, Merchandise Bearing and American Trademark. [NOTE: The importer will receive a notice of seizure by mail, with the opportunity to respond by, among other things, filing a petition for remission].
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection urges consumers to be especially vigilant against purchasing suspected counterfeit technology products that may have a hidden, embedded virus that can steal your personal information, wipe your hard drive clean, or destroy your electronic devices,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “If the price seems too good to be true, it likely is a counterfeit or pirated item, and is a potentially dangerous product.”
The counterfeit DVDs will be destroyed.
Protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) remains a CBP priority trade issue.
CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive IPR enforcement program. CBP targets and seizes imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods.
The People’s Republic of China, where these DVDs were manufactured, remains the primary source economy for counterfeit and pirated goods seized by CBP and its primary IPR partner, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In Fiscal Year 2013, 68 percent of all IPR seizures were for goods manufactured in China. The MSRP of those counterfeit goods was valued at approximately $1.1 billion.
In addition to China, CBP and ICE seized counterfeit merchandise from 73 additional economies during FY 2013, including Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.
To view counterfeit seizure statistics from 2013, visit CBP’s 2013 IPR enforcement results and CBP’s IPR enforcement for more information on this priority trade enforcement issue.
Inspecting international parcels for dangerous and illicit products remains a CBP enforcement priority.
CBP routinely conducts random inspections operations on passengers and air cargo searching for narcotics, currency, weapons and other prohibited or illicit products.
If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations, 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 seizures nationwide.