U.S. counterfeit seizures hit record in 2006
Two U.S. Homeland Security agencies achieved an 83 percent increase in seizures of counterfeit goods during fiscal year 2006, setting new records as the number and value of seizures continues to increase, the Department of Homeland Security reported.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement made more than 14,675 seizures of counterfeit goods in 2006. The seized goods were worth more than $155 million, a 67 percent increase from the previous year.
ICE investigations resulted in 219 arrests, 134 indictments and 170 convictions in intellectual property rights violations, a 71 percent increase.
One of the top commodities seized in 2006 was footwear, which accounted for 41 percent of the entire value of goods seized.
In one of the largest seizures of counterfeit goods in DHS history, ICE and CBP officers in Arizona, Texas and California seized 77 containers of counterfeit Nike Air Jordan athletic shoes and one container of Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, with an estimated value of $69.5 million. Six individuals, two of them U.S. citizens, were indicted by a federal grand jury for attempted bribery, trafficking in counterfeit goods and conspiracy.
CBP has employed a bevy of modern investigative techniques to go after groups that steal intellectual property or make copy-cat goods, including the use of risk-modeling to identify high-risk shipments for border inspection as is done for security inspections and auditing importers.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has mounted an aggressive campaign the past two years to assist governments root out groups engaged in counterfeiting and brand piracy, praised the department's efforts so far.
'The tide is starting to turn against counterfeiters and pirates. CBP, ICE, and the business community are making progress in achieving our shared goal — making the world a miserable for these dangerous criminals. There’s still much work to be done, but we understand the stakes — the health of our economy, the viability of our businesses, and the safety of our citizens who are too often unwitting victims of these illegal acts,” Chamber President Tom Donahue said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative asked the public for help identifying countries around the world that do a poor job of protecting intellectual property rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. entities that rely on intellectual property protection.
In a Federal Register notice Tuesday, the agency solicited examples of acts, policies and practices in foreign countries that will help create a 'priority' list of nations, as required under the Trade Act, with inadequate systems for protecting intellectual property.
Submissions must be received by 10 a.m. Feb. 12. To read the notice, go to: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/pdf/E7-108.pdf.