CBP Chicago Seize $204K of Watches & Earphones for Violating Apple Trademark


CHICAGO–On August 1, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers attached to the Anti Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET) in Chicago inspected seven boxes arriving from Hong Kong that contained a total of 423 smart watches and 200 earphones.


After consulting with an Import Specialist from the Electronics Center of Excellence and Expertise, the items were deemed in violation of CBP trademark and copyright codes, and were declared seized on September 11.


Apple has configuration trademarks on their brands, and has recorded those trademarks with CBP. Furthermore, a company does not have to put an “Apple” wordmark or design on their products to violate these trademarks.  In this instance, after further inspection of the watches it was determined that the shape, design, form and function were identical to the Apple Watch. And the earphones were determined to be identical to Apple Airpods.


The importer will have many opportunities through the adjudication process to provide evidence that their product does not violate the relevant recorded trademarks. If the items were real, the MSRP was $204,168. The package was destined for an address in Lima, Peru.


Counterfeit merchandise is often made of inferior materials, manufactured under uncontrolled and unsanitary conditions and labeled with false information, potentially threatening the health and safety of buyers and users.


“Our officers and import specialists have done an excellent job targeting shipments and identifying counterfeit items,” said Shane Campbell, Area Port Director-Chicago. “CBP protects businesses and consumers every day with an aggressive intellectual property rights enforcement program.”


Nationwide in fiscal year (FY) 2019, CBP seized 27,599 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights (IPR). The total estimated MSRP of the seized goods, had they been genuine, increased to nearly $1.5 billion from over $1.4 billion in FY 2018.


Watches and jewelry topped the list for number of total seizures with 4,242 representing 15 percent of all seizures. Watches and jewelry remained at the top of the list of products seized by total MSRP value with seizures valued at over $687 million, representing 44 percent of the total MSRP value of seizures. Wearing apparel and accessories placed second by MSRP value with seizures estimated to be valued at more than $226 million.


Fiscal year 2019 Intellectual Property Rights Statistics

Products that infringe on U.S. trademarks, copyrights, and patents threaten the health and safety of American consumers, the economy, and national security. CBP and Homeland Security Investigations continue IPR enforcement against illicit imports.

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