By  on January 9, 2009

WASHINGTON — Counterfeit accessories seizures continued to increase in 2008, while the amount of fake apparel declined, according to statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies.

Counterfeit shoes were the top seizure in 2008, accounting for 38 percent of all infringing goods. Fake footwear worth $102.3 million domestically was seized last year, compared with $77.8 million in 2007, an increase of 31 percent.

The amount of fake handbags, wallets and backpacks netted increased 108 percent to $29.6 million from $14.2 million. Seizures of apparel dropped 7 percent to $25.1 million from $27 million. Handbags and apparel were the second and fourth most commonly seized categories, respectively, while pharmaceuticals was third.

The value of sunglasses seized nearly doubled to $7.9 million from $4 million. Seizures of perfumes and colognes grew 459 percent to $6.7 million from $1.2 million.

“CBP is improving the effectiveness of [intellectual property rights] enforcement by focusing on imports at high risk for counterfeiting and piracy, especially those that threaten the health, safety or security of the American people,” said W. Ralph Bashem, CBP commissioner.

Overall, about $272.7 million in counterfeit and pirated goods was seized in 2008, a 38.6 percent hike in value from the previous year. The total number of IPR actions increased to 14,992 in 2008, compared with 13,657 the prior year.

China continued to be the largest single source of infringing merchandise, accounting for 81 percent of all fake goods seized in 2008. Taiwan, India, South Korea and Hong Kong rounded out the top five biggest suppliers of infringing goods. Counterfeit footwear from China was responsible for 96 percent of all infringing footwear.

“Our increasing success in identifying and seizing counterfeit goods from the stream of commerce and prosecuting the individuals who attempt to circumvent our nation’s laws serves as a strong deterrent to others who wish to turn a profit at the expense of consumer safety,” said John Torres, Homeland Security’s acting assistant secretary for ICE.

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