NORFOLK, Va. - Fans of the Tennessee Volunteers might not be in the mood to sing their famed victory song, Rocky Top, after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 101 scale models of Neyland Stadium in Norfolk on Monday.
CBP officers initially inspected the stadium models, replicas of the University of Tennessee’s football stadium, on February 20 after it arrived from China. The replica stadiums, measured at 32 inches by 32 inches and 12 inches high, were destined to an address in Arlington, Texas. Officers suspected that the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark on the electrical plug may have been used without authorization and detained the models to verify trademark authenticity. The electrical plug powers lights within the stadium models and can pose a safety risk.
Counterfeiters generally manufacture products using substandard parts. Affixing the UL trademark falsely implies that the stadium models’ electrical wiring has been certified to meet quality and safety standards for electrical equipment and wiring. That false assurance could be harmful to consumers who are used to trusting the Underwriters Laboratory safety certification program.
CBP officers submitted documentation and photographs on March 7 to CBP’s trade experts at the Machinery Centers of Excellence and Expertise.
On March 21, CBP’s trade experts verified that the UL mark was not authentic and constituted a counterfeit mark.
CBP officers at the Area Port of Norfolk – Newport News completed the seizure on March 27. The seized stadium models were valued at $252,500 manufacturer’s suggested retail price, had they been authentic.
No one has been criminally charged. An investigation continues.
“Imagine a Volunteers fan proudly displaying his or her lighted replica stadium model only to wake up to the sound of the smoke detectors. This is a real danger posed by counterfeited electrical products” said Mark Laria, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Norfolk-Newport News. “Counterfeiters, or manufacturers that use unauthorized or untested electrical parts, will try to illegally profit on any popular commodity despite the potential threat that using unsafe parts may pose to consumers.”
CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement program. U.S. trademark and copyright owners can register with CBP to have their intellectual property protected at the border through the through the e-Recordation program (https://iprr.cbp.gov/s/). The international trade in counterfeit consumer goods is illegal. It steals revenues from trademark holders, steals tax revenues from the government, funds transnational criminal organizations, and the unregulated products potentially threaten the health and safety of American consumers. Counterfeit consumer goods may also be sourced or manufactured in facilities that employ forced labor.
During fiscal year 2022, CBP officers and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents seized nearly 21,000 shipments containing goods that violated IPR, which equates to nearly 25 million counterfeit goods. The total estimated MSRP of the seized goods, had they been genuine, was over $2.98 billion (USD), or an average of over $8 million every day.
Additionally, HSI special agents arrested 255 individuals in 2022, obtained 192 indictments, and received 95 convictions related to intellectual property crimes. To learn more at HSI’s role in combatting counterfeiting, visit the National IPR Coordination Center.
CBP's border security mission is led at our nation’s Ports of Entry by CBP officers and agriculture specialists from the Office of Field Operations. CBP screens international travelers and cargo and searches for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, invasive weeds and pests, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality.
See what CBP accomplished during "A Typical Day" in 2022. Learn more at www.CBP.gov.
Follow the Director of CBP’s Baltimore Field Office on Twitter at @DFOBaltimore for breaking news, current events, human interest stories and photos, and CBP’s Office of Field Operations on Instagram at @cbpfieldops.