Customs Seizure of Fake Toys & Purses valued at $500k

How would you like to cough up a half million dollars for importing counterfeit and infringing goods into the United States? Like we have explained previously, this importer stands to face a hefty penalty — around $500,000 – for this customs counterfeit seizure of fake toys and purses from China.

People fail to grasp the consequences of importing counterfeits. The reason might be a failure see the harm that it causes to the owner of the trademark, by confusing their purchasers and destroying a reputation for quality, or just not caring about the consequences in quest for making themselves some money. To those and others, I say: Consult a customs attorney who is well acquainted with the laws enforced by the customs service and who can judge the legality of the transaction, even getting advice from customs in advance.

The importers should expect to receive a notice of penalty from customs in the next few months. Here is the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers . . . seized over 200 counterfeit handbags and nearly 50 packages of plastic building blocks, Sept. 29, with an estimated counterfeit toy penaltyManufacturer Suggested Retail Price of more than $500,000.

“Intercepting counterfeit goods protects the trademark holder, the unsuspecting consumer, and strengthens the U.S. economy,” said Houston CBP Area Port Director Dave Fluty. “Import safety and protecting intellectual property rights are priority trade issues.  We will take every opportunity to intercept counterfeit goods entering through this port.”

The shipment, which originated from China, was manifested as bags, plastic toys and jewelry.  However, when CBP officers examined the shipment, cartons of women’s handbags bearing counterfeit Prada, Christian Dior, Michael Kors, and other name brands were discovered.  Also in the shipment were cartons of plastic building blocks bearing the Lego brand.

CBP officers provided images of the items to the different trademark holders who each confirmed that the imported handbags and building blocks were counterfeit and confusingly similar to the genuine brand. The import specialists determined the MSRP value of the goods. The seized items, which were enroute to a Houston store, will be destroyed.

customs penalty for counterfeitHomeland Security Investigations is investigating.

Last year, CBP seized more than $4.7 million in intellectual property rights violations nationwide. Handbags and wallets were the highest valued seized goods with an MSRP estimate of more than $700 million, up from more than $500 million in 2012.

To enforce intellectual property rights, CBP relies on trademark owners registering with the Patent and Trademark Office and by recording the trade name with CBP at e-Recordation.

The trademark holder confirmed they were both counterfeit and confusingly similar? That’s impossible. A counterfeit is something that is indistinguishable, and something that is confusingly similar is considered “infringing” and not a counterfeit. And again, that’s another reason why you need a lawyer to respond to this type of customs actions: oftentimes, customs doesn’t even fully understand what laws they are enforcing!

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: