America seizes almost US$1 million worth of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Louis Vuitton knockoffs
25 May 2021
On May 5, 2021, the United States Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati seized a shipment of counterfeit jewelry.
The package originated from Guangzhou, China, and was headed to a private residence in Akron, Ohio. Although it had a declared value of US$80, the package held 383 items of jewelry bearing trademarks from Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels as well as Louis Vuitton. The jewelry would have been worth US$866,120 had they been real.
“The CBP performs random inspections of packages, but will also check packages based on apparent discrepancies between what is declared and the package, if the package is damaged or if there is other probable cause, such as a history of prior violations from or to a mailing address,” says Christopher Rourk, a partner at Jackson Walker in Dallas. “A trademark or copyright owner can also register their intellectual property and then record that registration with customs, which might help identify counterfeit goods (although it could be difficult to detect them depending on how they are identified or packaged). In this case, it was not reported exactly how the goods were identified.”
According to the most recent CBP annual statistics for FY 2019, 83 percent of the total number of seizures (27,599) came from China and Hong Kong, Rourk says. “The CBP statistics do not provide any information about the location of sources within countries, though.”
The CBP did not release any information about arrests associated with this seizure, but the CBP annual statistics for FY 2019 reports that 256 individuals were arrested, with 197 indictments and 157 convictions related to intellectual property crimes, he states.
“Although statistics are not readily available, most sales of counterfeit jewelry likely occur online nowadays,” he adds. “However, in-person sales also occur, and the best way to protect your brand against counterfeits is to have an aggressive protection and enforcement strategy that includes monitoring online sales and using certified sales outlets for in-person sales.”