U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville seized three shipments of jewelry for bearing counterfeit designer trademarks while attempting importation into the United States.
On April 3, two shipments, originating from the same location in Hong Kong, were heading to the same private residence in Jeffersonville, Indiana, but with different recipient names. One shipment contained 400 bracelets bearing suspect Van Cleef and Arpels trademarks, while the second shipment contained 993 jewelry sets bearing suspect Van Cleef and Arpels trademarks. Officers submitted documentation and photographs to CBP’s trade experts at the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center of Excellence and Expertise (CEE), who determined that the merchandise was not authentic, and bore infringing trademarks that had been recorded with CBP for border enforcement through the e-Recordation program. Had the items been genuine, the total Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) would have been $3.7 million.
The next day, CBP officers held another parcel for inspection. This shipment was also from Hong Kong, but this time was heading to a residence in Cleveland, Ohio. Inside officers found 1,367 counterfeit pendants that bore recorded trademarks:537 bearing suspect Chanel marks, 155 bearing suspect Dior marks, 155 bearing suspect Louis Vuitton marks, 245 bearing suspect Gucci marks, 75 bearing suspect Fendi marks, 60 bearing suspect Yves Saint Laurent marks, 40 bearing suspect Tiffany & Company marks, 66 bearing suspect Versace marks, 20 bearing suspect Givenchy marks, 10 bearing suspect MCM marks, 20 bearing suspect Dolce & Gabbanamarks, 10 bearing suspect MLB Yankees marks, and 10 bearing suspect MLB Dodgers marks. Once again, officers submitted documentation and photographs to CBP’s trade experts at the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising CEE who determined that the merchandise was not authentic, and bore infringing trademarks that had been recorded with CBP for border enforcement through the e-Recordation program. The total MSRP for this shipment would have been $710, 295, had these items been real.
These shipments were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, the investigating arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and an investigation is ongoing.
Intellectual property is an important component of the U.S. economy, and Louisville Port Director Thomas Mahn emphasized the critical role CBP plays in protecting the economy and consumer safety and health. “No one buys a luxury brand piece of jewelry expecting it to fail or fall apart. As consumers increasingly purchase from online or third party vendors, our officers are at the frontline to guard against defrauders expecting to make money selling fake merchandise.”
“Substandard and illegal products harm the U.S. economy and the health and safety of consumers,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations, Chicago Field Office. “Once again our CBP officers at the Port of Louisville have demonstrated their exceptional skill and superior commodity expertise.”
Commonly, these goods are sold in underground outlets and on third party e-commerce websites. Online listings will often use images of the genuine designer product, defrauding purchasers who are expecting to receive the real thing.