December 2021 | In this Update
- Message from the Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner
- CBP Offers Holiday Shopping Tips to help Consumers Spot Fake or Dangerous Products
- Internet Purchases from Foreign Sources - Your Responsibilities as an Importer
- CBP and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Partner to Combat Counterfeits
- Trademark and Copyright Holders Can Help CBP Protect Intellectual Property Rights
- Technology and Authenticating Imported Merchandise
- Report Trade Violations to CBP and its Partners
- Enforcement News from Across CBP
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Message from the Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Counterfeit goods pose real dangers to consumer health and safety and jeopardize the U.S. economy by eroding the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and workers. In Fiscal Year 2020, CBP personnel nationwide seized 26,503 shipments containing counterfeit goods estimated to be worth nearly $1.3 billion had they been genuine. As the volume of e-commerce purchasing increases as we approach the holidays, CBP continues to emphasize the enforcement of intellectual property rights and the importance of strong partnerships – with other agencies, businesses, and consumers – to share information, raise awareness of risks, and provide guidance on how we can work together to ensure the gifts and products that enter our homes are safe and authentic.
–Patrick Schmidt, Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner
CBP Offers Holiday Shopping Tips to Help Consumers Spot Potential Fake or Dangerous Products
The dangers of buying counterfeit products aren't always obvious. There are economic impacts, legal implications, and health and safety risks that are important for you to know before you buy. Particularly, when shopping online, beware of counterfeit goods. Fake goods can lead to real dangers. To help keep consumers safe this holiday season, CBP offers these eight shopping tips:
- If it seems like a steal, it probably is. If you're getting a "too good to be true" price on a product, it may be counterfeit goods. Compare prices on multiple websites to ensure you're getting the real deal.
- Read online seller reviews. Online reviews and product images from consumers can indicate product quality and authenticity.
- Familiarize yourself with online purchase return policies. The lack of return policy on a website, or a less than reasonable return policy, could indicate the seller is selling counterfeit goods.
- Pause your purchase if redirected to another site to pay. Websites that sell counterfeit goods can steal your personal info, like credit card numbers and address, to use for illicit purposes.
- Look out for suspicious ads. Clicking on suspicious website ads can lead you to websites and vendors that sell fake products.
- Make sure you can contact the online seller. If a website does not have proper contact information or phone numbers that work, this could be a sign that the website is illegitimate and sells counterfeit goods.
- Look at and read all labels. Inspect labels for expiration dates, safety seals, and worn or rubbed off labels. Labels can indicate counterfeit products that may put you or your loved ones in danger or make people sick.
- Report fake Products. CBP’s e-Allegations program helps consumers report suspected trade violations. It helps to protect consumers from products that could pose a threat to health and safety. Consumers can find more information at www.cbp.gov/fakegoodsrealdangers and report suspected counterfeits via CBP’s e-Allegations Online Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.
Find these tips and more on @CBP and learn about how everyone can help keep the market free of fakes by being smart and savvy consumers.
Internet Purchases from Foreign Sources
The Internet has made it easy to find and purchase items from almost anywhere in the world. However, many consumers are discovering that getting a item successfully delivered to the United States from a foreign country is much more complicated. There are specific rules and regulations that govern the act of importing and they can be extremely complex and confusing - and costly.
When you buy goods from foreign sources, you become the importer. And, as the importer, you are responsible for ensuring that the goods comply with a variety of both state and federal government import regulations. Importing goods that are counterfeit, unsafe, that fail to meet health code requirements, or that violate quota restrictions could end up costing you quite a bit of money in fines and penalties. At the very least, such goods would be detained, and possibly destroyed, by CBP.
Knowing what is admissible is just part of the story. The other part is knowing how to import. Depending upon what you are importing and its value, the procedures can be very complicated. Before buying something from a foreign source, learn about your responsibilities and liabilities and read CBP's E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guides that were developed to help consumers and importers understand the risk and consequences associated with counterfeit goods purchased through the internet.
CBP and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Partner to Combat Counterfeit Goods
Counterfeit goods are a problem all year long, but the increased demand for gifts and other necessities means that the holiday season provides more opportunity for those looking to make a profit by selling fake products to unsuspecting consumers.
Earlier this year, CBP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced a joint initiative to establish a public-private collaboration and strengthen efforts to stop the importation of counterfeit and pirated goods into the United States.
In a memorandum of understanding, CBP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce express their intent to enhance the exchange of information concerning known or suspected intellectual property rights violations. The partners also intend to conduct joint training and outreach events and to improve business and consumer awareness of dangers of counterfeit goods, the responsibilities and risks that come with importing goods, and how to avoid falling for scams.
As a continuation of this partnership, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and CBP are raising awareness this holiday shopping season through the ‘Shop Smart’ campaign to educate businesses and consumers about the dangers of counterfeit goods and encouraging consumers to “unbox real happiness” instead.
Trademark and Copyright Owners Can Help CBP Protect Intellectual Property Rights
CBP has the authority to detain, seize, forfeit, and ultimately destroy merchandise seeking entry into the United States if it bears an infringing trademark or copyright that has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office, and has subsequently been recorded with CBP. In addition to CBP regulations, 19 C.F.R. Part 133, CBP has issued two publications, CBP Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and How to work with CBP to Protect your Intellectual Property, that explain in detail how intellectual property right (IPR) owners can partner with CBP to ensure their trademarks and copyrights are enforced at all U.S. Ports of Entry.
IPR owners can record trademarks and copyrights with CBP through the e-Recordation system and provide contact information for questions or concerns. Counterfeit and pirated goods are becoming much more sophisticated, which means that it is also becoming much more difficult to distinguish legitimate goods from fakes. CBP reaches out to rights owners for assistance in making infringement determinations. Recordation owners can also educate CBP on their products and brand by creating a product identification guide and providing webinars and in-person trainings for CBP personnel working in the field or in one of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise.
One of CBP’s most important collaborative partnerships is with the trade community. Enforcing intellectual property rights is a complex process and partnering with rights owners and industry organizations is critical to CBP’s success.
Technology and Authenticating Imported Merchandise
CBP's partnerships with all trade stakeholders, including manufactures, businesses, government partners, and consumers, are vital to its enforcement mission and continued success in protecting U.S. businesses and consumers from counterfeit goods.
A recent formal partnership arrangement with NIKE, Inc. as part of the Donations Acceptance Program is one example of how CBP collaborates with manufacturers to protect intellectual property rights. Under its partnership with CBP, NIKE, Inc. is donating proprietary technology to aid CBP in authenticating a variety of NIKE, Inc. merchandise and preventing counterfeit products from entering the United States. CBP and NIKE, Inc. will test the tool at a limited number of international mail and express consignment facilities.
The Donations Acceptance Program enables CBP to accept tools and technology and work in partnership with private entities to enforce intellectual property rights and keep counterfeit products out of the United States.
Report Trade Violations to CBP and its Partners
Information is a powerful tool for the fight against fakes. The public can help CBP and its partners identify and investigate trade violations, including those involving counterfeit products, by submitting suspicious activity to the CBP e-Allegations Online Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT. The e-Allegations program provides a means for the public to report to CBP any suspected violations of trade laws or regulations related to the importation of goods into the United States within five basic categories of trade violations: forced labor, revenue evasion, merchandise violations, shipping violations, and miscellaneous trade violations. The public can also contact the National IPR Coordination Center for additional enforcement opportunities concerning reported violations.
Information submitted to CBP through e-Allegations is disseminated to the appropriate agency, office, or port of entry for investigation. This important information-sharing tool improves CBP’s enforcement of intellectual property rights at the border.
Enforcement News From Across CBP
Attention Holiday Shoppers: CBP Recently Seized Over $30 Million Worth of Fake Designer Products
Los Angeles, CA — CBP officers assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport in coordination with Import Specialists from the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center of Excellence and Expertise recently intercepted 13,586 counterfeit designer products arriving in a containerized cargo shipment from China. CBP officers discovered handbags, tote bags, shoulder bags, crossbody bags, backpacks, shirts, and pants bearing numerous registered and recorded trademarks, such as Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, YSL and Louis Vuitton. CBP officers, in cooperation with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents seized the shipment on November 9, 2021. If genuine, the seized merchandise would have a combined estimated Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $30,437,775.
CBP Seizes 41 Counterfeit Ivermectin Pills and Vaccine Cards
Chicago, IL — CBP officers working at the International Mail Facility at Chicago O'Hare are still seizing counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards and the antiparasitic that has caused a lot of controversy, Ivermectin. On October 4, CBP seized two shipments that were destined for residence in Seagraves and Houston, Texas. CBP inspected the parcels to determine the admissibility of the items in accordance with agency procedures. One package was manifested that it contained PVC sleeves while the other package was labeled as greeting cards. Upon inspecting the parcels, CBP officers found 21 counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards in one package and 20 counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards in the other. The cards closely resembled the authentic Center for Disease Control (CDC) certificates provided by healthcare practitioners when administering the COVID vaccine. The cards appeared to be fraudulent due to their low quality appearance and other discrepancies. Both shipments originated from China.
CBP Seizes over $479,000 Worth of Illegal Contact Lenses
Cincinnati, OH — In late October, CBP officers, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigation special agents and FDA consumer safety officers conducted a special operation focused on misbranded contact lenses to identify and intercept illegal contact lenses being imported into the United States. Contact lenses are regulated commodities in the United States. These misbranded lenses violate FDA laws and could prove dangerous or ineffective. CBP and FDA Officers found a total of 26,477 pairs of undeclared or misdeclared decorative contact lenses. The prohibited contact lenses originated primarily from Hong Kong and Japan and were destined to addresses across the entire United States. The cumulative Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for the prohibited lenses were $479,082 had they been legally imported.
Office of Congressional Affairs | December 2021