Tag: penalty

Counterfeit Goods Seized by CBP Detroit

CBP Seizure for Online Counterfeit Purchases FAQ

CBP will detain, seize, and forfeit counterfeit goods that were purchased online and shipped to the United States. CBP sometimes will also issue a penalty for counterfeit seizures. We get way too many calls on this topic, and so we are publishing some frequently asked questions on the topic in the hope that it is useful. The law that prohibits importing counterfeit goods into the United States is 19 USC 1526. You can read details about the law here: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1

1. Customs detained or seized my internet purchase. I think the goods are fake (not genuine, counterfeit, etc). What happens next?

If Customs seizes your items, you should receive a notice of seizure in the mail. The notice of seizure will explain what your options are. You will have 30 days to file a petition or 35 days to make an offer in compromise.

2. Am I going to jail?

Although the importation of counterfeits is a crime, criminal prosecution for innocent internet purchases is very unlikely. The more products you import, the greater the value, the greater intent you have to sell or redistribute the goods (or the greater intent CBP can infer from your purchase and/or past activity), the more likely it would be that you would be criminally prosecuted. In other words, it would be extremely rare for you to get criminally charged if you are not trafficking in counterfeit goods.

3. Am I going to get a penalty?

Possibly. CBP guideline’s state that all counterfeit imports should be penalized, but in fact, that is not what happens. It can be hard to predict who will receive a penalty. Generally, the chance for a penalty increases for:

  • Commercial purchases
  • High quantity purchases (i.e., CBP could infer from the order that it was meant for re-sale)
  • High value purchases
  • Repeat violations

The above are just a few circumstances where we have seen counterfeit penalties issued, but there are cases where penalties are issued for reasons other than the above. Sometimes it can just come down to the decision of a Customs official to refer the matter for a penalty, and other times sometimes some ports are more aggressive than others about issuing penalties (ahem, Port of Mobile).

4. How will I know if I will get a penalty?

You will not know until you get it. A penalty comes in the mail, usually first class mail (i.e., not certified or registered mail), so it’s arrival is unassuming.

5. What should I do if I get a penalty?

If you get a penalty, you should file a petition for mitigation of penalty. You generally have 60 days from the date of the penalty notice to file the petition, asking that the amount be reduced. You should have a lawyer do this.

6. How long does it take for CBP to issue a penalty for counterfeits?

It could be weeks, months, or even years after the seizure before you receive a penalty. A penalty will come in the mail, typically only first class mail (not certified). CBP has 5 years to issue a penalty. However, the more time that passes after the 6 month anniversary of receipt of the notice of seizure, your the likelihood of receiving a penalty goes down.

7. Should I respond to the notice of seizure? Should I abandon the property?

If the goods are truly counterfeit, you will not get them back without consent of the trademark holder, or some miracle. There are probably pros and cons to either choosing to abandon the property (affirmning that you are interested in the goods and that you want them to be forfeited) and just ignoring the letter. Whatever you choose, it’s wise to save the letter.

8. I think my goods are genuine. What should I do?

If you believe your goods are genuine, you should probably request samples, have the product or samples analyzed, and either file a petition or a claim. You should consult with a lawyer.

9. I don’t want the goods, but I also want to take steps to make sure I don’t get a penalty. What should I do?

There is no easy answer to this question. The violation has already happened, and there may be little you can do to avoid a penalty now. You may think that by not responding at all that the chance of receiving a penalty will decrease. You may think that by responding and forcefully denying you had any intention to import counterfeit goods the chance of receiving a penalty will decrease.

To both hypotheticals above, the answer is: maybe.

There are pros and cons, risks and benefits, to both potential courses of action. But it’s difficult to predict which will help you avoid a penalty, and which will cause the penalty to be issued. Please refer back to #3 and #4, above.

10. I received a threatening letter from the trademark holder. What should I do?

First, understand what they’re asking you to do in the letter. Then, weigh the risk of responding, vs. not responding (see #8 above, as the same considerations apply). By responding, you may be admitting guilt and making a case against you far easier. However, by not responding, you may be losing a valuable opportunity to avoid further actions against you, such as litigation.

You should also know that the law requires CBP to notify the trademark holder that they seized merchandise the bears counterfeit marks on it. These trademark holders will often (as in the case of Apple, Bluetooth, Samsung, Louis Vuitton, etc) have a law firm send out letters whenever their is a seizure, no matter the value, as a means of protecting their brand and scaring you to not import counterfeit goods, and gain intelligence on who is producing them and how they are getting into the United States, so they can try to put a stop to it.

11. Will I get arrested? Are they going to seize my bank account? Is that person knocking at my door right now the police?

Just calm down. As explained in #2 above, most people won’t get arrested. Bank accounts don’t get seized until you’ve got a judgment against you (i.e., after arrest, conviction, and trial). The person knocking at your door probably is not the police (but in case it is, assert your constitutional right to silence!)

12. What’s the worse that can happen?

The worse is not likely, at least for most situations. The worst that could happen would be that the merchandise gets forfeited, get sued by the trademark holder, you get fined by CBP, criminally charged and thrown in jail, your spouse leaves you, and your children pretend you don’t exist. But as explained above, the worse probably will not happen.

13. Should I call you and discuss my case?

Probably not, especially if your purchase is less than $1,000 and you have not received a penalty. You should calm down and read the answers to the above questions. If you are interested in a consultation, we charge for any advice that is beyond the advice that is given here. Reach out to us if you would like a quote to provide you with advice, or filing a petition, or if you receive a penalty.

CBP Bill Notice of Debt

Why Did I Receive a Bill From CBP?

Frequently, we are contacted by people who receive a bill from Customs by mail. By this, they literally mean a bill, with a spot on the bottom that you’re tear off and return with payment like your utility bill. Here’s an example:

CBP Bill Notice of Debt

As you can see, this is different from the notice of penalty or liquidated damages. A penalty or liquidated damage notice invites the recipient to file a petition for remission or mitigation. Here, there is no such offer; the debt is due, and you are given little time to pay.

Why did I get a bill from CBP?

Well, it means you owe money to CBP. It could be because of failure to pay duties for merchandise imported (regular duties, or anti-dumping or countervailing duties), or you failed to take action after receiving a penalty notice/liquidated damages notice by either not paying the mitigated penalty timely, or by not responding at all.

You can usually figure out what the nature of the debt is by looking carefully at the bill, even if it’s not easily determined at first glance.

If you have no idea why you’re receiving the bill from CBP, it may indicate you did not receive notice of the debt. It may also indicate you are a very, very inexperienced importer that is definitely in need of an education.

Notice of Penalty or Liquidated Damages Inccured by CBP

Failure to Report Arrival or Advance Electronic Cargo Information Penalty

U.S. Customs & Border Protection enforces many laws and regulations that concern arriving at the border, presenting merchandise to Customs, filing advance cargo information, and unloaded merchandise or off-loading passengers without authorization.

For instance, 19 CFR 123.92 requires advance cargo information for commercial shipments from Canada and Mexico be sent to CBP electronically 30 minutes or 1 hour prior to the “carrier’s reaching the first port of arrival in the United States, or such lesser time as authorized . . .” even if the carrier is just transiting through the United States.

Similarly, 19 USC 1433 requires that any vessel, vehicle, and aircraft report their arrival, and present all person and merchandise for inspection to a customs officer.

What happens if fail to report arrival or violate CBP’s entry regulations?

If you fail to report arrival, present false documents or paperwork, violate regulations regarding the entry and arrival of vehicles, or discharge passengers or merchandise without Customs authorization, you are liable to a penalty of $5,000, and possibly seizure of the conveyance and the merchandise stored in it.

If you have a prior offense, the amount can increase to $10,000. In the case of an unreported or improperly entered conveyance, Customs can impose the value of the merchandise (or if they conveyance itself is the merchandise… the value of the conveyance) in addition to the $5,000 or $10,000 standard penalty.

If receive a penalty for these failures under 19 USC 1436, we can file a petition for mitigation and you can expect your mitigated penalty to be reduced. The reduction varies on the type of violation, who committed, and the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.

An image of 11 counterfeit championship rings that were seized by Detroit U.S. Customs & Border Protection at Detroit Metropolitan airport.

Detroit CBP Seizes $680k in Counterfeit Championship Rings

CBP at Detroit Metro Airport seized $680,000 worth of counterfeit championship rings that were being imported into the United States from China. This counterfeit seizure by happened in April, but it is just now making the news.

That’s probably because the story finally made it from FP&F to CBP’s press department, or because the notice of seizure was finally mailed after a final determination by CBP that the rings were actually counterfeit. A valuation of $680,000 means that Customs is putting an MSRP value on each ring of $5,000.

Recall that each time you cause an importation of a counterfeit item into the United States it subject to seizure and you are subject to a penalty, as the importer, for up to the value of the goods if they were real. You can read more about that in our other articles on that topic: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2  (click to read).

The use of a fictitious name by the importer opens the importer up to additional liability beyond merely violation 19 USC 1526(e) (importing counterfeits), by charges involving fraud. Not a smart move. Here’s the story:

DETROIT— In late April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $680,000 (MSRP) in counterfeit NHL, NFL and MLB championship rings in a shipment that originated on a flight from China.

While conducting operations at a DHL consignment facility, the Cargo Enforcement Team selected and examined a shipment of rings from China, resulting in the discovery of 136 counterfeit championship rings from the National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. In all, the counterfeit rings displayed the names and logos of several teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets. The shipment also included rings for the Chicago Black Hawks and the Boston Red Sox.

The company identified as the receiver of the rings used a fictitious name and was found to have previous copyright/trademark violations.

Have you had allegedly counterfeit merchandise seized by CBP in Detroit?

Not only do you have rights to contest the determination that the merchandise was counterfeit (like getting a sample of seized merchandise), but if you’ve been penalized we are very successful in getting penalties reduced or eliminated entirely. Click the contact button on this page to get in touch with us today!

U.S. Customs Seize $541,000 in Unsafe Consumer Products

When importing into the United States an importer must make sure to comply with the customs laws for classification, valuation, invoicing, etc. But they also must make sure that they’re products are not harmful or in violations of the myriad of other regulations enforced by CBP at the border; whether they be FDA, Department of Agriculture, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Recently, customs seized over half a million dollars in unsafe consumer products in a joint effort with the French government.

The story below:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and French Customs General Directorate announce the results of Operation Bathe and Beaute, a bilateral Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement operation targeting counterfeit personal care products and electric personal care devices. The joint operation, conducted from April 8 through May 4, resulted in the seizure of 76 shipments of more than 31,000 counterfeit items for a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $541,000.

“Operation Bathe and Beaute reflects our ongoing efforts to interdict illegal trade in counterfeit merchandise, which threatens the competitiveness of legitimate businesses and can jeopardize consumer health and safety,” said Assistant Commissioner Brenda Smith of CBP’s Office of International Trade.

Box of counterfeit items valued at suggested MSRP of $541,000.
76 shipments of more than 31,000 counterfeit items for a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $541,000.

“After the successful Core Systems operation in late 2013, this fourth joint operation between CBP and French Customs demonstrates once again how important it is to exchange information and act together to fight organized crime in a global world,” said François Richard, French Customs Attaché.

The four week operation focused on personal care products and devices that potentially introduce dangerous chemicals and bacteria to the skin and eyes or burning or electrocution due to non-standardized wiring and ineffectual family planning protection to the consumer. Products seized during this event included make-up, condoms, hair removal devices, contact lenses, hair curlers, straighteners and skin cleansing devices.

 

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 $1.3M Worth of Counterfeit Toys

This is an odd story about a counterfeit seizure case because it’s unclear how customs determined the value of the seizure. Typically, the value of counterfeit seized merchandise is based on it’s MSRP; in other words, what the cost of the goods would be if they were genuine. In this case, the reason the product is counterfeit is an alleged “UL” logo — on what would otherwise be allowed imports, apparently.  Is customs valuing the added value of the UL mark? It is a point I would raise in any petition filed for mitigation of the penalty. The importers should expect to receive a notice of penalty from customs in the next few months.

Laredo, Texas – The Import Specialist Enforcement Team (ISET) at U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Laredo Port of Entry seized a total of 18 commercial shipments of counterfeit rechargeable toys over the summer, for allegedly infringing on the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) registered and recorded U.S. trademark. The total value of the shipments is nearly $1.3 million.

In the 18 enforcement actions, recently finalized, CBP import specialists from World Trade Bridge selected shipments of rechargeable toys for examination. During the examinations, CBP import specialists noticed that the Customs Penalty for Counterfeit UL Logobattery chargers accompanying each rechargeable toy all bore the UL trademark, which is a U.S. registered trademark recorded with CBP. ISET conducted a review and discovered that the shipments lacked legal authorization documentation to use the recorded trademark   A lead enforcement manager for UL confirmed that the use of their trademark was unauthorized and infringing on their recorded trademark. Given the foregoing, CBP’s ISET determined that the rechargeable toys in the shipments seized bore counterfeit trademarks and were subject to seizure. In these 18 enforcement actions, from late June to early September 2014, CBP subsequently seized a total of 4,671 rechargeable toys, which, had the trademark been genuine, is valued based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, in the amount of $1,292,953.00.

“Our ISET has done it again and through their diligence and attention to detail they prevented toys with chargers baring a counterfeit trademark from entering U.S. commerce and potentially causing harm to children,” said Joseph Misenhelter, CBP port director, Laredo Port of Entry. “Preserving Intellectual Property Rights and import safety are priority trade issues for CBP and our enforcement of these laws helps create a level playing field for all and strengthens the U.S. economy.”

How would you like to cough up $1.3 million for importing goods that bear a counterfeit logo into the United States? Like we have explained previously, this importer stands to face a hefty penalty for this customs counterfeit seizure.

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:

San Juan CBP officers seize counterfeit electronics

Many fail to grasp the importance of CBP seizures of counterfeit merchandise, and many fail to grasp they are liable for purchases made on the Internet that involve the importation of goods into the United States customs territory. It causes the trademark holder harm, confuses the purchasers, steals money from consumers who overpay for fakes, and destroy a reputation for brand quality. Some counterfeits, like electronics with a fake testing laboratory certifications, or those missing legally required safety features, are simply dangerous.

The story that follows perfectly demonstrates the reasons why customs seizes counterfeits and often penalizes people who import them, my comments are in [brackets] (original story HERE):

The Internet has made it easy to find and purchase items from almost anywhere in the world [NOTE: Something we talked about in Customs Liability for Internet Purchases – CLICK HERE]. With a high demand for well-known brands, many online vendors sell counterfeit products online, infringing on various trademark holder’s rights and revenues.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) San Juan Field Operations officers and import specialists seized this past weekend various courier consignments that contained counterfeit speakers, car beepers [??], iPhone CBP Counterfeit Seizureparts, cell phone front screens, USB cables and writs-watches [seizure of counterfeit iPhone and Apple parts is a popular past-time of CBP].

Various consignments inspected by CBP officers at the San Juan Air Cargo facility, revealed products that infringed the intellectual property rights of Dr. Dre beats, Pandora, Samsung, BMW, Belkin and Disney trademarks.  The products were shipped from vendors in China and Hong Kong. “The trade in these illegitimate goods is associated with smuggling and other criminal activities, and often funds criminal enterprises”, stated Area Port Director Juan Hurtado.  “Protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) remains a CBP priority trade issue.”

Consumers seek and purchase particular brands of products, believing that such brands have an intrinsic guarantee of their quality.  Without a brand to protect, counterfeiters just seek to produce superficial quality products and take advantage of the loyalty that consumers have for a branded product. Poor quality products end up destroying the reputation of the copied brand, when it becomes impossible to distinguish the real product from a counterfeit.

The last paragraph raises an interested question that I haven’t found a client willing to argue before customs yet: what happens when the products aren’t counterfeits, but are gray market goods that the trademark holder does not want imported into the United States? In other words, what happens when people inside the factory where genuine goods are made take some product out the backdoor and sell it online, and it gets imported into the United States? That’s an interesting question indeed….

Like we have explained previously, anytime your imports violate the law you face a hefty penalty for  a CBP counterfeit seizure. We can help you if you are facing penalties from CBP 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 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 CBP counterfeit seizure articles:

Customs Seizure & Penalty for Counterfeits and Uncertified Engines

Importing is a tricky business that presents a trap for the novice. You may think you can import merchandise that can be used to make a few quick dollars on because of a high profit margin. The story below falls into that category.

This person attempted to import 300 Wii controllers, 400 USB convertors, and 200 small motorcycle engines. If successful, there was some money to be made. But the problem was the Wii controllers and USB converters were counterfeit, and the 200 small motorcycle engines lacked an important EPA certification.

The consequences? Customs seized the counterfeits and the small motorcycle engines are an importation contrary to law because of the failure to have certification by the EPA.

PORTAL, N.D. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers recently targeted a rail container at the port of Portal, North Dakota. In February 2014, CBP officers inspected the rail container and discovered merchandise that violated multiple laws and regulations. The merchandise consisted of approximately 300 counterfeit Wii remote controllers, 400 counterfeit USB converters and 200 small motorcycle engines that were not certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

CBP determined that the trademark was counterfeit on the Wii remote controllers and USB converters. As a result, CBP seized those items. The counterfeit merchandise had a Keep Calm and Contact Your Customs Attorneymanufacturer’s suggested retail price of $20,800. In addition, CBP seized the small engines that were found not to be certified, as required by the EPA. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the engines was $16,400.

“CBP continues to play a key role in Intellectual Property Rights enforcement,” said Brent Beeter, the Port Director in Portal. “CBP continues to stay focused on combating the illegitimate trade in counterfeit products.”

Stopping the flow of illicit goods is a Priority Trade Issue for CBP. The importation of counterfeit merchandise can damage the U.S. economy, and threaten the health and safety of the American people.

With the growth of foreign trade, unscrupulous companies have profited billions of dollars from the sale of counterfeit and pirated goods. To combat the illicit trade of merchandise violating laws relating to intellectual property rights (IPR), trademark and copyright holders may register with CBP through an online system. Such registration assists CBP officers and import specialists in identifying violative merchandise.

CBP’s IPR enforcement strategy is multi-layered and includes seizing violative merchandise at our borders, pushing the border “outward” through audits of suspect importers, cooperating with our international trading partners, and collaborating with industry and governmental agencies to enhance these efforts.

Many fail to grasp the importance of customs seizing counterfeit or uncertified merchandise. 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.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit trademarked merchandise or for importations contrary to law. We can help. You can pay the penalty or, as we recommend, file a petition for mitigation to ask for a reduction in the penalty. Once the notice of penalty is sent, the recipient has either 30 days to pay the penalty or file a detailed petition arguing the legal bases for further mitigation (reduction) or cancellation of the penalty. 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:

 

 

Customs Seizure & Penalties for Fake & Faulty Hairdryers

Many fail to grasp the importance of customs seizing counterfeit merchandise. 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. Another reason might be because they never got scammed into buying a product at full price… only to find out it is a worthless counterfeit. But sometimes counterfeits are dangerous.  Like electronics with a fake testing laboratory certifications, or those missing legally required safety features. The story that follows perfectly demonstrates the reasons why customs seizes counterfeits and often penalizes people who import them (original HERE):

HOUSTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized nearly 5,000 hair dryers as the required Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters that

Images from Seizure

protect consumers from electrical shock or electrocution hazards were missing. The hair dryers, which originated from China, have a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of almost $330,000. “This seizure is the latest example of the vigilance and attention to detail our officers pay to protect consumers from imported goods

Image for Seizure

that pose a dangerous risk,” said CBP Houston Area Port Director Dave Fluty. During an examination of the shipment, officers found the dryers missing the immersion protection plug and bearing a suspect trademark logo. Officers coordinated with Consumer Product Safety Commission and with the CBP Intellectual Property Rights Rights [sic] Branch, Regulations and Rulings, Office of International Trade to verify authenticity. The CBP IPR Branch confirmed the products were counterfeit, and a CPSC evaluation of product samples concluded the required immersion protection plug was missing resulting in the seizure of the entire shipment that contained more than 400 boxes of the faulty articles. According to CPSC, consumers should look for a large, rectangular-shaped plug at the end of the hair dryer cord indicating the presence of a GFCI. The certification mark of a recognized testing laboratory should also be visible on the hair dryer or on the hair dryer’s packaging.

The individual who caused the importation is now liable to customs for penalties for 1) importing counterfeits into the United States under 19 USC 1526 and 2) importations contrary to law under 19 USC 1595a, because there was no GFCI on the hairdryers. It will prove to be a costly mistake. As we have previously explained, the penalties for the trademark violation are equivalent to the MSRP of genuine articles, or in this case almost $330,000; the penalties for importations contrary to law is equivalent to the domestic value of the imported merchandise, which is likely far less than the $330,000 figure and equivalent to, more or less, the price actually paid for the merchandise. I am sure any penalty in this case will be for at least $330,000.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit trademarked merchandise or for importations contrary to law. We can help. You can pay the penalty or, as we recommend, file a petition for mitigation to ask for a reduction in the penalty. Once the notice of penalty is sent, the recipient has either 30 days to pay the penalty or file a detailed petition arguing the legal bases for further mitigation (reduction) or cancellation of the penalty. 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: