Feds Seize More Than $1.2 Billion Worth of Counterfeit Items
There were 23,140 counterfeit seizures in fiscal year 2014—worth an estimated $1.2 billion if the products had been genuine.
While this number declined 5 percent from a year before, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) deemed fiscal year 2014 its third busiest since 2005, according to a joint report released last week with Homeland Security Investigations unit of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The total dollar value of seizures also decreased about $500 million in fiscal year 2014. China remains the top provider, based on price, with 63 percent of the $1.2 billion. Hong Kong follows with 25 percent while all other countries had 1 percent or less.
Apparel was the No. 1 commodity based on number of seizures, but watches/jewelry was No. 1 based on value of the seizures (about $375.4 million). Handbags/wallets ($342.0 million), electronics ($162.2 million), apparel ($113.7 million) and pharmaceuticals/personal care ($72.9 million) rounded out the top five for estimated cost of the seizures while electronics (6,610), pharmaceuticals/personal care (2,417), handbags/wallets (2,221) and footwear (1,961) rounded out the top five for number of seizures.
Intellectual property rights enforcement has been a CBP priority since 2007.
“Protecting intellectual property rights is a critical part of CBP’s trade enforcement mission and critical to protecting American consumers,” R. Gil Kerlikowske, CBP commissioner, said in a statement. “In 2014, strong partnerships with our federal enforcement counterparts, effective targeting of high-risk shipments and frontline interceptions of cargo at America’s ports of entry produced more than 23,000 seizures of fake products worth an estimated $1.2 billion that could have cheated or threatened the health of American consumers.”
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The seizures resulted in 683 arrests, 454 indictments and 461 convictions.
“These results are a testament to the efforts of the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, and the increased collaboration fostered by the [Intellectual Property Rights] Center,” Sarah Saldaña, ICE’s director, said in a statement. “To be clear, intellectual property theft is not a victimless crime. The victims are American businesses, and the employees whose jobs are dependent on IP-intensive industries. Counterfeiting is a crime of global proportions, and when property rights are violated, American jobs are lost, business profits are stolen and ultimately, consumers are cheated.”
For more information and to see the full statistics report, visit www.cbp.gov.
Related story: Apparel Tops List of 2014 Counterfeit Seizures