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Customs agents in Louisville, Kentucky, seize fake goods worth more than $95 million ahead of Black Friday weekend



fake goods worth more than $95 million

Customs officers in Louisville in the US state of Kentucky seized 164 shipments of fake items worth more than $95 million in the three-month period leading up to the Black Friday weekend, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

That figure represented a 75% year-on-year increase from the same period in 2018.

In total, the goods seized, which induced fake designer bags, jewellery, shoes and sunglasses, would have been worth in excess of $95.5 million had the products been authentic, which worked out to some $582,000 per each individual shipment.

Over the course of the three months, frontline customs officers in the city worked in cooperation with CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Centres for Excellence and Expertise, where the agency’s intellectual property rights analysts verified the authenticity or lack thereof of confiscated items through trademark holders.

In a statement, Thomas Mahn, Louisville Port Director, said: “Driven by the rise in ecommerce, the market for counterfeit goods in the United States has shifted in recent years from one in which consumers often knowingly purchased counterfeits to one in which counterfeiters try to deceive consumers into buying goods they believe are authentic.

“Often times the counterfeits are priced competitively just below a genuine product to avoid scrutiny by the consumer.

“The consumers are unaware that they’re buying a dangerous product as the Counterfeit is just that good.”

The US Department of Homeland Security yesterday warned consumers to be on the lookout for counterfeit items and online scams as the Black Friday sales weekend got underway.

Taking to Twitter, the agency said: “Don’t get fleeced by fakes on #BlackFriday! Some shopping tips from HSI: 1. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is 2. Beware of websites that have unusual addresses or lack contact info 3. Another red flag – websites that offer models/designs not offered elsewhere.”

On Monday, CBP announced that customs agents in Louisville had seized six shipments containing more than 2,900 fake driver’s licences and in excess of 3,120 blank card stocks from which to make bogus driver’s licences.

One of the shipments is said to have been on its way to a convicted paedophile living in New York who is thought to have been using fake IDs to entice minors to engage in sexual activity.

All the seized items were produced in China and were on their way to recipients in the New York area.

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Japan hands Lebanese government Interpol wanted notice for fugitive ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn



fugitive ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn

Authorities in Japan have issued an Interpol international Red Notice for former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn.

Ghosn jumped bail and fled Japan to travel to Lebanon between Christmas and new year.

In a dramatic and ultimately successful bid to avoid standing trial over financial misconduct charges, Ghosn is said to have escaped Japan while hiding in a musical instrument case that was taken out of his Tokyo home, where he had been under house arrest awaiting trial.

He was then flown to Lebanon on a private plane.

After arriving, Ghosn issued a defiant statement condemning the Japanese justice system, complaining that he had no chance of receiving a fair hearing there.

“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” he said.

Albert Serhan, Lebanon’s justice minister, said on Thursday he had received the Interpol notice, and that the country’s government would carry out its duties, implying that the ex-car industry executive could be brought in for questioning.

The Lebanese government has already said that Ghosn entered the country legally using a French passport and Lebanese identification papers, making it highly unlikely that he will be handed over to Japanese authorities, particularly as the two nations do not have an extradition treaty.

Ghosn, who has Lebanese ancestry through his grandfather and spent much of his youth in the country, is much celebrated as one of the nation’s major success stories, and has even appeared on stamps there.

Gulf News reported today that Ghosn could even be offered a ministerial position in Lebanon’s government, in spite of the fact that authorities in the country have been facing widespread anti-corruption protests since October last year.

Fadi Walid Akoum, a Lebanese analyst, told Gulf News: “He is seriously being considered for the Ministry of Industry.

“Given that he faces accusations of corruption, then he will be automatically rejected by the Lebanese street, which revolted against corruption last October.”

As well as anti-corruption demonstrations, Lebanon is also facing an economic crisis that has seen the value of the Lebanese pound plummet and banks put limits on cash withdrawals.

Prosecutors in Japan accuse Ghosn of transferring Nissan funds for his personal use and to cover potential trading losses and misreporting his wages.

He has strenuously denied all the allegations made against him.

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European Patent Office agrees to help African counterpart improve assessment of patents



European Patent Office agrees to help African counterpart

The European Patent Office (EPO) has agreed to help the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) build capacity to examine patent applications validated in its member states.

On Monday, EPO President António Campinos and ARIPO Director General Fernando dos Santos signed a memorandum of understanding in Zimbabwe.

Under the agreement, which will be valid for the next five years, the EPO will provide ARIPO with access to resources, tools and training that will allow the latter organisation to more effectively uphold national patent filings for the countries it serves.

In a statement, Campinos said: “I am very pleased to conclude a reinforced partnership with ARIPO, the first regional organisation to sign this advanced co-operation agreement with the EPO.

“It demonstrates the strong commitment of our organisations to enhancing co-operation in order to support innovation and economic development in both our regions.

“Africa is an increasingly dynamic part of the global economy with strong growth potential. It stands to benefit from greater awareness of intellectual property, and improved access to the patent system.”

Santos said the signing of the agreement comes at a time when his organisation has been forging new partnerships and launching several fresh initiatives aimed at ensuring that its builds an effective patent examination system.

The Harare-based ARIPO is an inter-governmental agency that serves 19 countries across Africa that are home to approximately 350 million people.

At present, member nations include Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Thanks to agreements with global partners such as ARIPO, the EPO’s work products now cover markets of some 1.9 billion people, the agency said in a statement.

During his visit to Zimbabwe, Campinos also met with Rory Voller, the Commissioner of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission of South Africa.

Voller and Campinos discussed a reinforced partnership agreed between their respective organisations in June of last year, and signed a new biennial work plan for 2020-21.

This partnership is expected to benefit both EPO applicants and South African inventors by providing improved conditions for companies filing patents in both regions.

Last month, the EPO signed a reinforced partnership agreement with Intellectual Property of Indonesia, which was the second intellectual property office in Southeast Asia to enter into such a deal with its European counterpart.

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Interpol coordinates second worldwide operation targeting severe criminal maritime pollution



criminal maritime pollution

Interpol and Europol have led a major global crackdown on the perpetrators of serious marine pollution crime.

The month-long operation, which was codenamed 30 Days at Sea 2.0 and involved law enforcement agencies from 61 countries, identified hundreds of violations and exposed serious cases of contamination worldwide, including the illegal discharge of harmful material and waste at sea, in rivers and around coastal areas.

Interpol said the majority of the offences uncovered as part of the operation were found to have been carried out primarily in order to avoid the cost of compliance with environmental legislation.

Across October, the 200 enforcement agencies that took part in the effort identified over 3,000 offences during 17,000 inspections.

In Europe, the operation was coordinated by Europol and Frontex, the European border security agency.

In a statement, Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle commented: “With incidents of maritime pollution increasing significantly over the last decade, and as Europol considers maritime pollution to be a priority environmental crime area, we are proud to coordinate this operation within the EU Member States in active cooperation with our colleagues from Interpol and Frontex.

“The nature of maritime pollution requires a coordinated and multi-agency approach on a global scale : the impressive results of the second edition of ‘Operation 30 Days at Sea’ illustrate once more what can be achieved when law enforcement agencies work together with the support of the EU and global organisations.”

As part of the operation, Interpol hosted an Operational Command Centre (OCC) in Singapore to focus on the illegal trade in plastic waste, which it has identified as a key threat to marine environment security.

Operation 30 Days at Sea 2.0 saw Interpol’s National Central Bureau in the Nigerian capital of Abuja help 18 local law enforcement authorities carry out investigations into illegal oil refineries, and find offenders responsible for severe oil leaks polluting the country’s waterways.

Elsewhere, intelligence shared between Malaysia and Holland resulted in investigators being able to identify the source country of seven containers of plastic waste being illegally shipped into Malaysia from Belgium via Hong Kong, and to initiate their repatriation.

The operation also saw Ecuador launch a plastic waste collection campaign in the World Heritage site of the Galapagos Islands, and authorities in Indonesia conduct a public awareness campaign on marine pollution.

Last year’s iteration of 30 Days at Sea resulted in over 5,200 inspections, which led to the establishment of at least 185 investigations.

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