On January 11, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPOs) at the port of New Orleans targeted three international shipments for inspection. Each shipment contained boxes with hundreds of the popular pop fidget toys. The toys had copyright and trademark infringements. Some of the counterfeit trademarked items included toys in the shape of Yoda, Spiderman, The Hulk, Bart Simpson, and Converse All Star sneakers. The counterfeit trademarked merchandise was seized. The shipments were coming from Shenzhen, China, to a local address. Shenzhen, a city in southern China just north of Hong Kong, has been the shipper location for the many seized counterfeit COVID vaccination cards, along with other counterfeit items.
Fidget popper toys mimic the popping of plastic bubble wrap, though with the element of perpetual reusability by turning the toy over. Popularity of pop fidget toys quickly grew after an October 2020 TikTok video of a capuchin monkey determinedly using one went viral. Anecdotal evidence suggests school children now trade them amongst their friends for fun.
Illicit manufacturers continue to exploit the rapid growth of e-commerce, especially during this pandemic, to sell counterfeit goods to unsuspecting consumers in the United States. In Fiscal Year 2020, CBP seized more than 26,500 shipments containing counterfeit goods that would have been worth nearly $1.3 billion had they been genuine.
CBP data indicates that handbags, wallets, apparel, footwear, watches, jewelry, and consumer electronics are at higher risk of being counterfeited. Counterfeit watches and jewelry make up almost half of the total MSRP of seized goods. Counterfeit versions of popular brands are regularly sold in online marketplaces and flea markets. Counterfeit goods hurt the U.S. economy, cost Americans their jobs, threaten consumer health and safety, and fund criminal activity. Visit the National IPR Coordination Center for more information about IPR including counterfeiting and piracy.
Consumers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods:
- Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.
- 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.
- Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers.
- Remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Featured images: Courtesy US CBP – Yoda pop fidget toy