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CBP Blocks Counterfeit Solar Panels

Release Date: 
June 17, 2020

Goods valued at over $650K won’t enter American commerce

HOUSTON – For the second time in four months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Houston seaport seized over 2,000 solar panels bearing a counterfeit trademark label.

Solar Panel with trademark infringment
CBP officers in Houston seized 2,340 solar panels for intellectual 
property rights violation.

This most recent shipment of 2,340 solar panels was imported from Turkey destined for New Jersey and has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $658,125. Last fiscal year, CBP seized just over 600 shipments originating from Turkey for intellectual property rights (IPR) violations.

“Counterfeiters have long moved beyond producing imitation jewelry, clothes and purses,” said CBP Houston Area Port Director Roderick Hudson.  “This seizure is indicative of the lengths these transnational criminal organizations will go to make a profit at the American consumer’s safety and expense.”

CBP officers targeted the shipment for examination after reviewing the shipping documents and discovering the imported goods were solar panels. Solar panels drew concern because officers seized a shipment of panels bearing counterfeit markings in February. As part of CBP’s examination, officers coordinated with the trademark owner who verified that the items were in fact counterfeit and infringing on trademarked goods. The shipment was seized June 3.

Solar panels seized  in February
In February, CBP officers in Houston seized over 2600 
solar panels for trademark infringement.

“Our CBP officers, import specialists and trade enforcement team will take every opportunity to disrupt the importation of counterfeit items and prevent their entry into the American commerce,” Hudson said.  “The potential damage of having these substandard products installed on a home is unimaginable.”

The seized panels may be destroyed and the importer could be assessed a fine and/or penalty.

In fiscal year 2019, CBP effected 27,599 IPR seizures. Had these seized items been genuine, the total estimated MSRP was over $1.5 billion, up from $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2018.

Anyone with information regarding suspected fraud or illegal trade activity, can report suspected trade violations to e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT. 

 IPR violations can also be reported to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center or by telephone at 1-866-IPR-2060.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021