Tag: counterfeit

CBP Seizes Counterfeit Watches with $2.7M MSRP

Customs reported a seizure of over 11,000 counterfeit watches which, if real, would have a manufacturer’s suggest retail price of $2,791,250. The same law that permits Customs to seize the counterfeit watches also allows CBP to impose a penalty of up to the MSRP value of the counterfeit watches. In this case, that means the importer of these watches will be subject to a penalty of nearly $2.8 million dollars.

MIAMI – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers with the Miami Seaport Trade Enforcement Team (TET) seized 11,165 counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.

Counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.
CBP seized 11,165 counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.

The watches were being shipped from China and destined for Florida. CBP OFO officers discovered the watches in 123 cartons arriving in a shipment from China.

CBP OFO officers with the Trade Enforcement Team (TET) suspected the watches were counterfeit as the items did not appear to be of the quality consistent with the watches that are normally manufactured by the trademark holder.

Samples were submitted to CBP Import Specialists for review and determined to be counterfeit.

“Counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their efforts and CBP OFO officers here at the Miami Seaport take great pride in protecting Americans from low quality and unsafe products,” said Miami Seaport Port Director Diane Sabatino. “Our CBP officers consistently demonstrate their exceptional skills at identifying counterfeit goods and work well with CBP Import Specialists to protect consumers and ensure these products do not enter the commerce of the United States.”

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:

CBP Seizes Fake Apparel Worth $48K from Arriving Traveler

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a large amount of counterfeit clothing from a traveler that was arriving from El Salvador. I guess this puts to rest my belief that it is a rare occurrence when when Customs encounters somebody who is travelling from overseas with this large of an amount 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.

Customs may presume that the large quantities means that is must have been intended for sale or public distribution. Thus, this person may have exposed himself to a monetary penalty equal to the MSRP of the seized goods as if they were real. 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 could not stop himself from getting a good deal. Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized counterfeit Gucci, Burberry, Lacoste, Versace, Armani, Ferrari, Coco Chanel, Tory Burch and Michael Kors merchandise, May 13,

Counterfeit Clothing Seized by CBP

valued at more than $48,000.

The seized items included shirts, hats, shoes, purses and jewelry destined for Houston.

CBP officers conducted an inspection of a passenger arriving from El Salvador with checked bags. During the inspection, they discovered 161 brand-named articles that appeared to be 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 clothing were not manufactured by the trademark holders.

Counterfeit Chanel Jewelry

“Packing hundreds of phony articles in suitcases doesn’t release passengers from their obligation to adhere to U.S. import laws and requirements,” said Houston CBP Port Director Charles Perez. “This seizure protects the trademark holder, their businesses and their employees and denies criminal organizations from reaping profits from the sale of counterfeit and illegitimate consumer goods.”

Counterfeit Chanel jewelry was among the seized items. Watches and jewelry topped the list of seized items sorted by value in fiscal year 2014.

CBP officers obtained digital images of the merchandise and forwarded them to the trademark owner to determine their authenticity. After verifying that the merchandise was counterfeit, CBP seized every item for infringement of intellectual property rights.

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:

CBP Seizes Alleged Counterfeit Auto Parts in Florida

Here’s one of those seldom thought about counterfeit merchandise seizures: counterfeit autoparts. When you think about counterfeits you usually think about currency, clothing, watches, and things like that. You don’t typically think of auto parts being something is counterfeited. But apparently they are out there, and it happens a lot, and its dangerous. Here’s the story from Customs (full version here):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists seized more than 3,260 counterfeit automobile parts during an inspection at Port Everglades on May 8. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the counterfeit products is around $280,000.

CBP, along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), targeted the shipment as part of a joint multi-layered enforcement operation focused on interdicting illegal counterfeit automotive parts.

The seizure included over 180 different types of vehicle parts ranging from small fuses to front ends.

Counterfeit automotive parts are a safety risk as they are of inferior quality compared to the authentic product and their failure to perform to standard could cause safety issues resulting in catastrophic failure.

 

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:

CBP Seizes Counterfeits from Traveler from Vietnam

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:

CBP Seizes $1.2B in counterfeits in FY 2014

In addition to currency seizures and drug seizures, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizes counterfeit merchandise imported into the United States. CBP considers counterfeit interception to be a priority trade issue. Customs has released their annual statistics for 2014 wherein they breakdown what they seized throughout the past fiscal year. The report includes the total volume of seizures, value, and countries from which the counterfeit goods were exported. The summary from Customs is repeated below:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) today announced the fiscal year 2014 results of an aggressive enforcement program to protect the United States from counterfeit and pirated goods. CBP and HSI are the components within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).

“Protecting intellectual property rights is a critical part of CBP’s trade enforcement mission and critical to protecting American consumers,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “In 2014, strong partnerships with our federal enforcement counterparts, effective targeting of high risk shipments and frontline interceptions of cargo at America’s ports of entry produced more than 23,000 seizures of fake products worth an estimated $1.2 billion that could have cheated or threatened the health of American consumers.

[ . . . ]

In fiscal year 2014, there were 23,140 intellectual property rights seizures with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price or MSRP of $1.2 billion, the value of the goods had they been genuine.  In addition, 144 shipments of circumvention devices were seized for violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  CBP also enforced 44 exclusion orders in fiscal year 2014. Since 2007, CBP has identified intellectual property rights enforcement as a priority trade mission. Although IPR seizures declined slightly in 2014 from 2013, CBP recorded its third busiest year for seizures since 2005.

[ . . . ]

Wearing apparel and accessories continue to be the number one commodity classification based on number of seizures with 7,922 seizures or 28 percent.  Watches and jewelry are the largest commodity classification by value with an estimated MSRP of $375 million or 31 percent.

The People’s Republic of China remains the primary source economy for counterfeit and pirated goods seized with a total value of $772 million, representing 63 percent of all IPR seizures by MSRP. Hong Kong ranks second with $310 million or 25 percent.

Tactical interagency collaboration with the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) resulted in 683 arrests, with 454 indictments and 461 convictions.

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:

CBP JFK Seizes $700k in Counterfeit Monetary Instruments

Just the other day we blogged about a counterfeit currency seizure at an express cargo facility at JFK Airport. Today, there is another story which involves counterfeit bank checks and money orders (also falling under the “monetary instrument” category).

In this instance, they were from the Ivory Coast and were transmitted in an envelope labeled “Documents.” What follows is an excerpt:

Counterfeit Monetary Instruments
Counterfeit Monetary Instruments

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at John F. Kennedy International seized counterfeit monetary instruments at an express cargo facility.

On March 27, CBP officers seized counterfeit bank checks and money orders arriving from Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) totaling a little more than $700,000.

CBP officers examined a shipment described as “Documents” finding one envelope inside containing bank money orders and checks labeled Chase, Bank of America and Western Federal Credit Union in the denominations of $965, $985 and $2,920. A review of the bank money orders and checks lacked the necessary security features consistent with those of legitimate monetary instruments.

A combined 516 bank money orders and checks were counted with a total value of $732,585.00.

“CBP Officers are protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis,” said Robert E. Perez, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations. “The interception of these counterfeit bank checks in a one-week period is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily.”

No arrests have been made at this time and the investigation is ongoing.

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or 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 with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP

CBP Seizes Counterfeit Money in Ecuadoran Import

This story does not involve a customs currency seizure because counterfeit bills are not considered a monetary instrument under the definitions applicable to 31 USC 5316, but they do present their own problems. Obviously, counterfeit currency is illegal in its own right, whether or not it has been reported to Customs or not. In this instance, the counterfeit bills were not found on an arriving traveller who was asked to make a report about the currency he was transporting, but was found hidden in an inbound shipment from Ecuador. The full story is HERE, and what follows is an excerpt:

Counterfeit Currency Seized
Counterfeit Currency Seized

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at John F. Kennedy’s International express cargo facility seized $65,200 dollars in counterfeit 100 dollar bills. On March 21, CBP officers found $65,200.00 counterfeit $100 U. S. bills concealed in place mats and a shoe bag from Ecuador. A total of $65,200 (652 – $100.00 notes) of counterfeit U. S. currency was seized; this investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made yet.

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or 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 with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP

CBP Seizes $430k of Counterfeit/Smuggled Perfume in Champlain

Here is an interesting counterfeit seizure story out of Champlain, New York, from CBP. The officers there intercepted a truckload of perfume with “suspicious labeling.”

From the picture produced with the news release it appears the importer attempted to disguise the counterfeit perfume bottles with labels that can easily be peeled off. In the picture, it appears the Beauty Woman” label was once on top of and concealing the label that says “Miss Dior Cherie.” This is likely going to result in not only a seizure and penalty for violations of the trademark laws, but also for smuggling; because by mislabeling the perfume the importer concealed the counterfeit nature of the product.

This importer, if he did this intentionally, is too clever by half. I can see an argument that it was not known the perfume bore a counterfeit label underneath the upper label, but in the absence of proof of active measures to prove that steps were taken by the importer to ensure that counterfeits were not being imported, that’s going to be a tough sell to Customs.

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. – On March 19, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Champlain port of entry seized over $430,000 in counterfeit perfume.

On February 21, CBP officers encountered a tractor trailer hauling a commodity listed as perfume. Initial review of the shipment revealed suspicious labeling and packaging consistent with counterfeit goods. Further review by CBP import specialists confirmed the goods were counterfeit and violated trademarks from the following manufacturers: GUCCI, Calvin Klein, Miss Dior, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, and Carolina Herrera.

The shipment was seized for bearing marks identical with or substantially indistinguishable from trademarks.

The seizure was a result of a joint effort with Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI Special Agents.

Like we have explained previously, this importer stands to face a hefty penalty — around $500,000 — for this customs counterfeit seizure. Importing counterfeit items into the United States is a very serious matter. Once forfeiture is perfected, the person who caused the importation will probably receive a notice of penalty from U.S. Custom & Border Protection for a monetary penalty equivalent of the value of the products if they were real (MSRP).

The importer will have a chance to respond to customs’ notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely.

If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government can bring a lawsuit in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property. We can help you if you are facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit trademarked merchandise. 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).

Call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or CONTACT US HERE. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Champlain, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Consult a customs lawyer who is well acquainted with the laws enforced by the customs service and who can judge the legality of the transaction, by even getting a prospective ruling from customs in advance.

Please read these customs counterfeit seizure articles:

CBP Seizes Counterfeit Kids’ Bracelets

Below is a Customs seizure story about fake monster tail bracelets recently seized as counterfeits. In the story, Customs states that fake products, often toys, can contain harmful substances like “lead or phthalates”. While that may be true, Customs only states that generally and does say if these products contain harmful substances. It seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened. In my opinon, by explaining that counterfeits can contain harmful substances Customs obscures the real reason for seizure. Counterfeit products are subject to seizure even if they are totally safe. Period. 

We previously explained the serious dangers of importing counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States; how it results in seizure, monetary customs penalties, and some strategies as to how the importer can defend it. This story underscores the importance of everything we discussed in those articles, which you should read here: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2.

DALLAS – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Dallas/Fort Worth International airport seized 200 Rainbow Loom ® Monster Tail ™ kits, Nov. 16.

“This seizure is indicative of the level of attention CBP officers are paying to protect consumers from harmful counterfeit products,” said CBP Area Port Director Cleatus Hunt. “Genuine products pass rigorous safety testing while cheap imitations, though packaged to look authentic, are an inferior product containing harmful substances.”Customs Seizure of Counterfeits

Common harmful substances found in counterfeit toys include lead or phthalates.

The counterfeit craft item was made in China and enroute to La Paz, Bolivia. CBP officers examined the shipment of 15 cartons which was manifested as necklaces when it arrived in Dallas. Upon examination, officers discovered the popular children’s kits among the cartons and after verifying the kits were counterfeit, seized the cartons containing the kits.

Protecting intellectual property rights is a priority CBP trade issue because counterfeit and pirated goods not only hurt American businesses, these products are often associated with criminal activities and fund other criminal enterprises.

For this particular seizure, a primary concern was the risk the counterfeit kits posed to the consumer. Rainbow Loom ® cautions against purchasing counterfeit kits with illustrations of the dangers fake kits pose to consumers.

Shoppers who suspect they purchased a counterfeit item should discontinue using the product and contact the National IPR coordination center. Consumers can learn about getting their money back by visiting the Federal Trade Commission.

As the holiday shopping season begins, shoppers can protect themselves by learning how to spot a fake at Stopfakes.gov.

Importing counterfeit items into the United States is a very serious matter. First, it is very likely that after seizure the property will be forfeited and destroyed by the U.S. government if, in fact, they are violative of the trademark laws.

Once forfeiture is perfected, the person who caused the importation will probably get a notice of penalty from U.S. Custom & Border Protection in the mail for the equivalent of the value of the products if they were real. The importer will have a chance to respond to customs’ notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely. If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government can bring a lawsuit in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property.

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.

U.S. Customs Seizure of $2M in Counterfeit Handbags

Customs made another high value seizure of counterfeit merchandise being imported into the United States with infringing trademarks under 19 USC 1526. Customs seized 198 counterfeit “Hermes Birkin” handbags that they allege infringe the a trademark.  The manufacturer’s suggested retail price, if the counterfeits were genuine, is $1,861,200. That is what the penalty amount will be calculated from.

We previously discussed, in a two article series, the dangers of importing counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States, how it can result in seizure, monetary penalties, and how the importer can defend it. This story underscores the importance of everything we discussed in those articles: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2  (click to read). 

SAVANNAH, Ga. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations at the Port of Savannah, Ga., seized 198 counterfeit Hermès Birkin handbags October 6. Had the goods been genuine Hermès Birkin handbags, CBP import specialists estimated that the merchandise would have had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,861,200.

This seizure is the Port of Savannah’s third multi-million dollar seizure of counterfeit goods this year.

The shipment, manifested as polyurethane handbags, arrived to the Port of Savannah September 4 from China. It was destined to an address in Atlanta.

“Counterfeit goods pose a potentially serious safety threat to consumers and economic loss to U.S. businesses,” said Lisa Beth Brown, Area Port Director in Savannah, Georgia. Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) remains a top trade priority for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

The counterfeit handbags will be destroyed. In July, CBP officers seized 377 cartons of counterfeit sunglasses with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,619,550. … In April, CBP officers seized more than $1 million in counterfeit soccer apparel.

Importing counterfeit items into the United States is a very serious matter. First, it is very likely that after seizure the property will be forfeited and destroyed by the U.S. government if, in fact, they are violative of the trademark laws.

Once forfeiture is perfected, the person who caused the importation will probably get a notice of penalty from U.S. Custom & Border Protection in the mail for the equivalent of the value of the products if they were real. The importer will have a chance to respond to customs’ notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely. If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government can bring a lawsuit in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property.

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.