The federal government seizures involving Intellectual Property Rights infringements increased nearly 25 percent in fiscal year 2015, with apparel and accessories the top categories.
The collaborations between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations netted 28,865 seizures of shipments, an increase from 23,140 in fiscal year 2014, the agencies said Friday in their annual report.
Had these products been genuine, the estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the seized goods would have been more than $1.35 billion. This is a 10 percent increase in the value of seized goods from the previous fiscal year, the agencies said.
“CBP’s frontline interdictions, steadfast targeting and close collaboration with ICE and other law enforcement agencies produced a record number of seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “The large increase in the number of IPR seizures reflects the hard work and dedication of our people across the country every day.”
Customs Enforcement director Sarah R. Saldaña said, “Counterfeit goods present health and safety hazards, threaten the U.S. economy and fund organizations involved in violent crime. ICE is committed to working with CBP and our law enforcement partners to protect American jobs and people by stemming the illicit flow of these products into our country and our communities.”
In fiscal year 2015, apparel and accessories along with watches and jewelry were the top two product categories for number of IPR volatile shipments seized. Watches and jewelry along with handbags and wallets were at the top of the list for MSRP value.
Tactical interagency collaboration with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center resulted in 538 arrests, with 339 indictments and 357 convictions.
China remained the primary source economy for counterfeit and pirated goods seized, accounting for a total estimated MSRP value of $697 million, or 52 percent of the estimated MSRP value of all IPR seizures.
In fiscal year 2016, CBP and HSI said they will continue to protect businesses and consumers through their aggressive IPR border enforcement program. Theft of intellectual property threatens America’s innovation-based economic vitality, business competitiveness, the livelihood of workers, consumer safety and national security.
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 provides CBP with new tools to better enforce intellectual property rights, allowing private sector donations of hardware, software and equipment to supplement IPR enforcement. It also enhances CBP’s collaboration with IP rights holders, improves targeting through the interagency IPR Center and strengthens international partnerships to stop counterfeiting at the source.