Baltimore CBP Flexes Muscles Over Phony Fitness Gear
Baltimore - Not that New Year's resolution makers needed an excuse, but recent Customs and Border Protection seizures of exercise equipment in Baltimore might have given some the opportune time to hit the showers.
CBP officers seized about $200,000 in fake fitness equipment, such as the popular Ab Circle Pro, Ab Rocket, Ab Coaster Pro, Malibu Pilates, Cardio Twister and the Push Up Pro, that was shipped to the Baltimore seaport from China.
"These products can hurt consumers twice. It can cause physical harm if incorrectly or poorly assembled, and it can cause financial pain because the products have very little refund value," said Stephen Dearborn, Acting Port Director for the Port of Baltimore. "Counterfeit merchandise also impacts the trademark rights holders in lost revenue."
The initial seizure was recorded on Feb. 19. CBP officers inspected a shipment of 600 pieces of exercise equipment that arrived from China on Jan. 3. Working with the trademark holders, officers detained the products on Jan. 15, and issued a detention letter to the importer. Officers formally seized the merchandise when the importer was unable to provide authorization letters from trademark rights holders after 30 days. The appraised domestic value of these products was about $145,000.
CBP officers seized the second shipment on March 10. This shipment, which arrived on Feb. 20 and was inspected a few days later, was destined for the same importer, and included additional exercise equipment. The importer abandoned the equipment and CBP officers seized the products. The appraised domestic value of this seizure was about $55,000.
"Exercising on counterfeit fitness equipment is a true example of 'buyer beware,'" said Dearborn.
CBP has designated intellectual property rights enforcement as a priority trade issue.
CBP's strategic approach to IPR enforcement is multi-layered and includes seizing fake goods at our borders, pushing the border outward through audits of infringing importers and cooperation with international trading partners, and partnering with industry and other government agencies to enhance these efforts. CBP devotes considerable resources and diverse personnel to the enforcement of IPR.
During fiscal year 2009, which ended on Sept. 30, 2009, CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement made 14,841 seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods with a total domestic value of $260.7 million. Administrative enforcement by CBP personnel accounted for about 90 percent of these seizures.
China continues to be the number one source country for counterfeit and pirated goods, accounting for 79 percent of $204.7 million of the total seizure value during FY2009.
Footwear was the top product seized for the fourth consecutive year, accounting for 38 percent of the entire domestic value of IPR infringing goods.
CBP urges consumers to become familiar with the products they are buying, and buy from a reputable source. If shopping online, consumers should be particularly cautious because what you see isn't always what you're actually going to get.
For more information on CBP's Intellectual Property Rights enforcement mission, please visit the Intellectual Property Rights Web site.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.