U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said its officers at the northern border crossing of International Falls, Minnesota, stopped a shipment of 1,088 counterfeit LED screens from entering the consumer market.
The screens, which the agency’s officers discovered on Feb. 12 in two 40-foot containers, were destined for Ranier, Minnesota. The shipment had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,529,600, if the goods had been genuine, CBP said.
“Counterfeiting adversely affects the ability of lawful copyright holders to profit from their original ideas,” said Anthony Jackson, CBP’s International Falls port director, in a statement. “Counterfeiting also harms consumers because manufacturers of forged products have little motivation to use safe, high-quality materials in their products.”
According to a CBP spokeswoman, the containers of LED screens originated in China and arrived at Canada’s Port of Vancouver before being transported by rail to the International Falls port of entry.
“Officers targeted the shipment for further inspection based on this being a first-time shipper,” the spokeswoman told American Shipper.
“When merchandise is suspected of being counterfeit, the company is asked to provide information authorizing the use of the trademark or logo to CBP,” she said. “If the documentation is not provided or is suspected of being counterfeit, further research is conducted with the trademark holder to determine whether or not the importer and/or shipper are authorized to use the trademark or logo.”
When the merchandise is seized, it is stored at nearby locations until CBP completes its investigation. The importer is given options to either bring the merchandise into compliance, if possible, or it’s destroyed, the CBP spokeswoman said.
The LED screens, in this case, were knockoffs of those manufactured by Danville, Illinois-based Watchfire Signs, one of the country’s largest suppliers of LED screen systems for billboards, sports and concert arenas, conference venues, and casinos. The company declined to comment for this article.
CBP said its intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement is “multi-layered and includes seizing illegal merchandise at our borders, pushing the border ‘outward’ through audits of suspect importers, cooperating with our international trading partners, and collaborating with industry and governmental agencies to enhance these efforts.”
Trademark and copyright holders are encouraged to register with CBP, which helps the agency’s officers and import specialists identify merchandise that violates U.S. laws.
IPR violations can also be reported to CBP’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
CBP said on a “typical day” during 2018, its officers seized $3.7 million worth of products with intellectual property rights violations. In fiscal year 2018 — the agency’s most up-to-date figures — a total of 33,810 seizures of counterfeit goods were made. If genuine, the goods would have been worth $1.4 billion.