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Savannah CBP Nets $1M+ in Counterfeit Soccer Club Apparel

Release Date: 
April 17, 2014

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Soccer, known internationally as football, is the world’s most popular sport today. So it’s no wonder that some vendors will do anything to capitalize on this popularity, even if that includes resorting to theft; theft of a trademark holder’s rights and revenues.

It’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) mission to tackle counterfeit imports, and officers and import specialists in Savannah, Ga., scored a seizure of soccer apparel, April 11, which exceeded $1 million in manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).

“Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovation economy, the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of U.S. workers, the economic security of our country, and in some cases, the health and safety of consumers,” said Reginald Manning, CBP Director of Field Operations in Atlanta. “Together with our enforcement partners, Customs and Border Protection continues to guard the nation’s borders against counterfeit products.”

CBP seized more than $1 million in counterfeit soccer club apparely in Savannah, Ga., April 11, 2014.The shipment arrived from China March 12. It contained 390 cartons of soccer t-shirts, socks, shorts and other merchandise that was destined to an address in Chamblee, Ga.

CBP import specialists placed an inspection hold on the shipment and had the container trucked the following day to CBP’s central examination station. That’s when CBP discovered several t-shirts bearing patches of professional soccer clubs and detained the shipment for trademark verification.

The apparel, which has an MSRP of $1,016,399, represented Arsenal, Barcelona, Celtic, Chelsea, Mexican Federation, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid football clubs.

CBP requested that the importer’s broker submit authorization letters from the respective trademark holders to import their branded items, but on March 27, the broker reported that the importer did not have authorization.

Over the next week, representatives from Arsenal, Celtic, and Chelsea football clubs reported to CBP that samples of the merchandise bearing their brand was indeed counterfeit. CBP then officially seized the shipment.

View or download still photos of the seized merchandise.

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 this shipment was manufactured, remains the primary source economy for counterfeit and pirated goods seized by CBP and its primary IPR partner, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with a total value of $1.1 billion. That number represents 68% of all IPR seizures by MSRP in FY 2013.

In addition to China, CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seized counterfeit merchandise from 73 additional economies during FY 2013, including Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.

View 2013 IPR enforcement statistics.

View additional information on CBP’s IPR enforcement programs. 

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy.

Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center harnesses the tactical expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the health and safety of the American consumer and the U.S. economy.

Collaboration through the IPR Center led to 692 arrests, 401 criminal indictments, and 451 criminal convictions for criminal IPR infringement activities in FY 2013. 

View more about the IPR Center and CBP’s border security mission at our nation’s ports of entry.