U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Norfolk in Virginia seized designer dresses, shawls and other items estimated to be worth more than $2 million that were believed to violate trademarks.
In April, a shipment of clothing destined for Ohio was detained after a thorough examination determined the contents to be counterfeit dresses, shawls and women’s slips. A total of 1,120 garments were seized by CBP, as they violated the intellectual property rights (IPR) of the Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Apple trademarks.
CBP trade specialists at the Consumer Products Mass Merchandising Center determined that the counterfeit clothing, if real, had a manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP) value of $2.37 million. A CBP spokesperson told Sourcing Journal the investigation into the goods’ point of origin is ongoing.
“CBP is charged with enforcing trade laws, and we continue to devote substantial resources to target, intercept, detain, seize and forfeit shipments of goods that violate these laws,” said Mark J Laria, CBP area port director in Norfolk, Va.
IPR violations pertain to products that infringe upon U.S. trademarks, copyrights and patents. Other violations can include misclassification of merchandise, false country-of-origin markings, health and safety issues, and valuation issues. These violations can threaten the health and safety of American consumers, the economy and national security, CBP said.
CBP data indicates that handbags, wallets, apparel, footwear, watches, jewelry and consumer electronics are at higher risk of being counterfeited. Counterfeit versions of popular brands are regularly sold in online marketplaces and flea markets.
The quality of merchandise that officers interdict are inferior to the original quality sold by legitimate manufacturers, the agency noted, and purchasing low quality goods from online third-party sellers is dangerous and puts buyers at risk of safety hazards. CBP suggests paying close attention to the quality of the items purchased and look for misprints, cheap packaging, low-quality materials used and lower-than-average pricing. These are all signs that the items being purchased could be fake.
Consumers can also take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods, CBP said. These include purchasing goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers, and when shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and an address that can be used to contact the seller.
“Remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is,” CBP added.