The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on April 23 honored recent efforts to counteract counterfeit products as part of its Intellectual Property Champions awards.
The business organization presented 12 awards to individuals, businesses and law enforcement organizations. U.S. Customs and Border Protection was honored for contributions in three separate cases where fake products were identified and prevented from entering U.S. commerce.
“Intellectual property rights are the cornerstone of our innovative economy and are critical to dozens of industries and millions of consumers across the globe,” said David Hirschmann, president of the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center.
As the federal agency responsible for the safety and lawfulness of all individuals and items that enter the U.S., CBP has long considered the protection of intellectual property rights a priority issue.
CBP was cited for participation in a collaborative effort to target the sale of counterfeit sports products and tickets. The results of the yearlong Operation Team Player were announced at this year’s Super Bowl where it was reported that more than $37 million in fake sports merchandise was seized, 70 individuals were arrested and 163 websites were seized for criminal violations. CBP joined other entities within the Department of Homeland Security and with Mexican Customs on this operation.
Investigators from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CBP also were cited for a complex operation that led to a conviction for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, including military grade circuits and other defense items. The convicted man forfeited more than $59,000 and a 2010 Acura and now faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
CBP and ICE investigators were recognized for digging deeper into a seizure and discovering much broader violations. In March 2011, CBP officers seized 10 copies of counterfeit Microsoft software. Further investigation found the individual involved sold counterfeit versions of other popular software worth more that $750,000. The individual was convicted, sentenced to prison and required to pay restitution.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia spoke at the awards event and thanked all those honored. “Encouraging innovation by ensuring it will be rewarded and protected builds our economy today and sets the stage for a brighter tomorrow,” Collins said.