The number of seizures of counterfeit goods by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) slightly decreased in 2012, the high was over 24,000 seizure cases in 2011. In 2012, the total number of seizure cases was slightly less, approximatley 22,800 seizures, netting goods worth nearly $1.3 billion. CBP advised that close to one-third of actual seizures consisted of apparel and accessories. Nationwide, handbags and wallets comprised the greatest number of counterfeit items seized by CBP last year, with the value of seizures was up 142 percent compared to 2011. About three-fourths of seized commodities by value came from China, despite efforts to heighten IPR recognition and protection. Of the approximately $511 million in handbags and wallets seized, more than $446 million came from China. Hong Kong, Singapore, and India were behind China in seized commodities by value. They came in second, third, and fourth, respectively. Peru was ranked among the top 10 sources economies for the first time last year – as goods from Peru that were seized by CBP totaled almost $2 million.
The high number of handbag seizures can be attributed to situations such as the 1,500 high-fashion leather handbags bearing counterfeit “Hermès” listed trademark seizure that occurred in Los Angeles. The merchandise, which arrived from China in two shipments, was seized by CBP officers on February 12 and 26. The $18,414 combined estimated domestic value of the shipments is an indicator of potentially high profit margins in the illegal trade of this type of counterfeit luxury products. The vigilance and care that CBP officers have recently taken has increased and has allowed for protecting the intellectual property rights of companies and individuals, as well as, preventing the proliferation of counterfeit luxury handbags, potentially damaging our national economy.