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.