Counterfeit Seizures Grew 16.67% to $1.4 Billion in 2018

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) announced that counterfeit goods seizures by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) rose to an estimated $1.4 billion in a 2018 report. This represents an approximate 16.67% year-on-year increase.

The two agencies, which fall under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security, conducted 33,810 seizures during the calendar year, which resulted in 381 arrests, 296 indictments, and 260 convictions. 

Ip infringement seizures

E-commerce seizures, which occurred at international mail and express environments comprising of 475 million packages and 161 million express shipments, accounted for 90% of all seizures. To put this into perspective, these shipments came through the land (10 million trucks), sea (11 million maritime containers), rail (three million containers) and air travel (over a billion consignments). The majority of the seizures involved shipments originating from China (46%) and Hong Kong (41%).

The breakdown of the counterfeit product categories by volume are as follows:
  • Apparel/ Accessories: 18%
  • Footwear: 14%
  • Watches/ Jewellery: 13%
  • Handbags/ Wallets: 11% 
  • Consumer Electronics: 10% 
  • Consumer Products: 8% 
  • Pharmaceuticals/ Personal Care: 7% 
  • Optical Media: 2% 
  • Toys: 1% 
  • Computer/ Accessories: 1%
The top five categories by estimated retail value are: 
  • Watches/ Jewellery: $618 million
  • Handbags/ Wallets: $226 million 
  • Pharmaceuticals/ Personal Care: $131 million 
  • Apparel/Accessories: $115 million
  • Consumer Electronics: $89 million

Outreach and Education Efforts Against Counterfeit Goods

In a press release, IPR Center Director Steve Francis voiced his concerns about the threat of counterfeit goods to the American economy, and stated that the products were not only illegal, but were also “unhealthy and unsafe” and provide funding to “organizations involved in violent crime.”

He further expressed a desire for the private sector to participate in Operation Joint Venture, an anti-counterfeiting initiative by IPR Center and its 25 partners to combat IP theft by educating consumers and raising awareness. Mr. Francis also hoped that the initiative will help in identifying and investigating individuals and organisations involved in the counterfeit supply chain.

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