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US agents seize fake Chinese goods worth $16 million in Texas



counterfeit goods rise to account for 3.3% of all global trade

Officers from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have seized Chinese-made counterfeit luxury items estimated to be worth $16 million in the Texan city of Laredo.

Working in collaboration with colleagues from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), ICE investigators last Thursday impounded 78,908 suspected fake items, including knockoffs of clothing and electronics products from Adidas, Apple, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Samsung and Sony.

The confiscated items, which were part of a consignment that officials said was the second-largest seizure HSI had made in Laredo, will now be investigated by agencies including US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Mexican Customs and representatives from the trademark industry.

Special agents seized the items after HSI launched a clandestine surveillance operation targeting a public storage facility in Laredo, where a number of individuals were observed carrying boxes out of a rented storage unit to trucks and vans sporting Mexican licence plates.

During the surveillance operation, a large air cargo container was seen approaching the unit, from which counterfeit products were transferred to the waiting trucks.

It was at this time that HSI intervened, confiscating 275 boxes containing 78,908 items of suspected trademark-infringed merchandise.

No arrests have so far been made in relation to the shipment, but ICE said investigations are ongoing.

Commenting on the seizure, Tim Tubbs, Deputy Special Agent In charge of HSI Laredo, said in a statement: “Trafficking counterfeit goods poses a triple threat.

“Counterfeit merchandise wreaks havoc on local economies, threatens the health and safety of the American public, and funds criminal organisations engaged in other illegal activities.”

Organised crime groups that traffic these types of counterfeit goods typically ship them into Mexico, where they are able bribe Mexican regulatory and law enforcement officials so that the merchandise passes without inspection and the payment of duties.

In June 2016, a study published by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global IP Centre revealed that as much of 86% of the world’s fake goods originate from China and Hong Kong.

In its Measuring the Magnitude of Global Counterfeiting report, the US Chamber said: “Despite having become one of the leading players in world trade, China faces significant challenges in the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

“Even though improvements have occurred in recent years, China’s IP environment remains challenging and criminal prosecution against counterfeiters in many industry sectors is inconsistent.

“[W]hen looking at seizure data from major economies and international trade organisations, it is clear that today China is the world leader in producing and exporting counterfeit goods.”

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UK customs officers seize fake Chinese goods worth almost £3 million in run-up to Christmas



UK customs officers seize fake Chinese goods

British customs authorities have seized counterfeit items worth almost £3 million (£3.9 million) that had been shipped into the UK from China.

In an operation intended to crack down on fake goods ahead of Christmas, officers from UK Border Force confiscated thousands of bogus items including counterfeit designer label scarves, sportswear and electrical equipment.

At London Gateway Port alone, customs workers seized over 1,300 counterfeit Chanel, Burberry and Gucci scarves, which would have been worth £904,775 had they been genuine.

Elsewhere, customs staff at Milton Keynes Inland Pre-Clearance Centre intercepted some 850 bogus Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Nike, Champion and Converse bags and trainers with an estimated value of more than £842,000.

Commenting on the seizures, Security Minister Brandon Lewis said: “This government is committed to cracking down on criminals and the trade in counterfeit goods.

“People who deliberately purchase counterfeit goods are funding and supporting serious and organised criminals and their illegal activity.

“These seizures show how effective Border Force officers are in cracking down on criminality across our ports, airports and mail hubs to keep fake, counterfeit goods out of the country. Their critical work protects legitimate business and ensures that smugglers do not profit.”

In a statement, the UK Home office said Border Force’s specialist international trade teams work in close cooperation with intellectual property rights owners to establish whether seized goods are in fact counterfeit.

If goods are found to be fake, they are destroyed by customs officers before rights holders decide whether or not to prosecute importers.

Earlier this month, Britain’s Local Government Association cautioned consumers about potentially hazardous counterfeit toys in the run-up to Christmas after a string of seizures of such items.

Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, commented: “Christmas is a hotbed for criminals who put profit before safety by selling dangerous, counterfeit toys at cheap prices to unsuspecting shoppers.”

Separately, research commissioned by UK online e-cigarette retailer Vape Club revealed earlier this month that Apple’s AirPods will be the most “popular” counterfeit item this Christmas in Britain, with trading inspectors having already seized fake Apple earpieces worth an estimated £134,000.

Vape Club Director Dan Marchant commented: “We know there are a lot of counterfeit products on the black market — some of them look so similar to the original even the manufacturers have trouble telling them apart.

“But it’s the lack of knowledge about what’s inside or in what conditions they are produced that’s cause for concern.”

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Hewlett Packard seizes counterfeit products worth $11 million in India as part of its global anti-fraud programme



Hewlett Packard seizes counterfeit products

US technology giant Hewlett Packard (HP) has seized counterfeit products worth INR 80 Crores ($11.26 million) in India over the course of the past year as part of its global Anti-Counterfeiting and Fraud (ACF) programme.

Releasing information about the last 12 months of the campaign in India as part of its efforts to raise awareness of the extent of the piracy of printing supplies in the country, HP revealed that the Delhi-National Capital Region leads the nation in terms of seizure value, with confiscations worth 33.5 Crores taking place there over the past year.

Bangalore finished the year in second place with seizures of INR 22 Crores, followed by Mumbai and Chennai with 6.5 and INR 3.5 Crores, respectively.

HP worked with police across the country to carry out raids on more than 170 premises, resulting in the arrest of over 140 suspects and the seizure of completed and unfinished bogus cartridges, counterfeit packaging materials, and various sets of labels that were used during the manufacture of HP print supplies.

Noting in a statement that counterfeit print supplies can pose a significant business risk to companies that use them in the form of printer damage and associated downtime, HP said it works in close cooperation with law enforcement agencies the world over to crack down on counterfeiters that produce fake versions of its products.

Back in June, a survey commissioned by HP revealed that businesses around the world were at a greater risk of being sold fake printer supplies than ever before.

The poll, which was carried out on behalf of HP by market research firm Harris Interactive, found the availability of counterfeit printer products was being driven by an increasingly broad supplier ecosystem, a lack of certainty among buyers that their purchases were genuine, and an absence of awareness of the risks of using counterfeit goods.

The study showed that $3 billion is lost every year to counterfeit print products.

Speaking at the time, Glenn Jones, Director of HP’s ACF programme, commented: “Every one of the key market indicators we monitor show a significant increase in the risk of counterfeit print supplies.

“For companies like HP, counterfeits undermine decades of focused research and testing aimed at creating superior ink and toner, and reliable, high-quality cartridges for our customers.

“For users, fakes cause a significant increase in print failures, low page yield, poor print quality, leaks and clogs, in addition to voiding hardware warranties.”

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UK consumers warned of counterfeit toys that could cause physical harm to children



counterfeit toys that could cause physical harm to children

The UK’s Local Government Association has warned consumers in England and Wales to be on the lookout for dangerous fake toys in the run-up to Christmas.

In a statement issued after a string of seizures of hazardous counterfeit toys over the past few weeks, the Association, which represents local councils across England and Wales, cautioned shoppers to be alert to the tell-tale signs that products aimed at children might be bogus.

Trading standards investigators in the UK recently confiscated electric scooters that came without any safety documentation, tens of thousands teddy bears that posed a choking hazard, and audio products that exceeded legal decibel limits that had the potential to cause damage to children’s hearing.

The association also warned of fake versions of L.O.L Surprise! Dolls, which were the “must-have” gift over last year’s festive period, that were found to contain phthalates, a chemical that can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.

Consumers should also exercise caution when looking to take advantage of last-minute offers online for products that have sold out at mainstream retailers, as these are oftentimes run by scammers who will take shoppers money and send nothing in return, the association said.

Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, commented: “Christmas is a hotbed for criminals who put profit before safety by selling dangerous, counterfeit toys at cheap prices to unsuspecting shoppers.

“Bargain hunters need to be aware that fake, substandard toys can break and cause injuries or pose choking hazards, toxic materials can cause burns and serious harm, while illegal electrical toys can lead to fires or electrocution.

“It’s not unusual for rogue sellers to cash in on desperate shoppers by selling fake versions of ‘must-have’ toys sold out in well-known retailers, or claim to have them in stock on their website when they actually don’t exist.

Much as it is for retailers the world over, the Christmas period is one of the busiest and most profitable times of year for fraudsters and counterfeiters.

At the end of November, a toy importer in Los Angeles was charged with making and possessing more than $1.4 million in counterfeit goods, including toys, backpacks and playing cards.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that Wan Piao had been charged with seven felony counts of the infringement of intellectual property rights, affecting brands such as Pokémon, Hello Kitty, Angry Birds, Lego Ninjago, JanSport, Shopkins and Super Mario.

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