U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizes counterfeit designer watches at hub in Louisville

One of the most common counterfeited items seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are watches, and one of the main shipping hubs located in Louisville sees their fair share. In the month of July, CBP officers seized several shipments of counterfeit designer watches, if genuine, would have a Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) of over $4.24 million.

CBP officers in Louisville seized a total of nine shipments originating from Hong Kong containing 130 counterfeit watches. CBP’s trade experts at the Centers of Excellence and Expertise determined all of the watches were counterfeit.The watches displayed logos belonging to Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, Hubolt, Cartier, Bvlgari, and Audemars Piguet.

Most of the shipment were heading to Florida and other locations, but all watches were seized for infringing on protected trademarks. CBP has the authority to prevent shipments of counterfeit goods from entering the country and considers the protection of intellectual property rights a Priority Trade Issue. On a typical day in fiscal year 2022, CBP seized $8 million worth of products with Intellectual Property Rights violations.

“This is just another example of the work our officers do to protect consumers and the U.S. economy,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations, Chicago Field Office. “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.”

The illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods offers criminals a complementary source of income and a way through which they can launder money. Additionally, monies received from the sale of counterfeit products can be channeled towards the further production of fake goods or other illicit activities. Additionally, counterfeiting is a hugely profitable business, with criminals relying on the continued high demand for cheap goods coupled with low production costs.

Last fiscal year, counterfeit handbags/wallets, watches, and jewelry made up the top three seized counterfeit products by CBP based on the MSRP, respectively. Last fiscal year, CBP seized 153,810 counterfeit watches, if genuine, would have had a MSRP over $596 million.

Nationwide in Fiscal Year 2022, CBP seized over 24.5 million shipments of IPR violations. Had the goods been genuine they would have been worth just shy of $3 billion dollars. CBP protects citizens from unsafe and substandard products by seizing merchandise infringing on trademarks and copyrights recorded with CBP through the e-Recordation program https://iprr.cbp.gov/s/.

CBP has established an educational initiative to raise consumer awareness about the consequences and dangers often associated with the purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods. Information about the Truth Behind Counterfeits public awareness campaign can be found at https://www.cbp.gov/FakeGoodsRealDangers.

CBP encourages anyone with information about counterfeit merchandise illegally imported into the United States to submit an e-Allegation. The e-Allegation system provides a means for the public to anonymously report to CBP any suspected violations of trade laws or regulations related to the importation of goods in the U.S.

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