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Intellectual Property Rights
12/03/2009

$1 million in counterfeit items seized

DETROIT - More than 30,000 counterfeit items worth an estimated $1 million were seized last week from two warehouses in metro Detroit by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and officers from the Detroit Police Department.

The seized counterfeit items include: articles of clothing, purses and wallets, winter coats and gym shoes. The estimated street value of the items is close to $1 million. If the items had sold at the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the genuine brand merchandise, the estimated value is more than $3 million.

The seized counterfeit items represent various name brands, including Air Jordan, Gucci, Coach, Coogi, Nike, True Religion, Sean John and other designer name brands.

The counterfeit items were seized from two area warehouses late last week and over the weekend. The businesses at which the counterfeit merchandise was seized were not named, as they have not been charged with any offense. The investigations will continue.

Counterfeiting, piracy and other intellectual property rights (IPR) violations have grown in magnitude and complexity as technology facilitates this crime, costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue. Industry and trade associations estimate that counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy between $200 billion and $250 billion per year, and more than 750,000 American jobs. This impact is not just on the business community. In some instances, this crime poses a direct threat to public health and safety.

The growth in IPR violations has been fueled in part by the spread of technology that enables simple and low-cost duplication of copyrighted products. This growth is also fueled by the rise in organized crime groups that smuggle and distribute counterfeit merchandise for profit. In many cases, international organized crime groups use the enormous profits derived from selling counterfeit goods to bankroll other criminal activities such as drug and weapons trafficking.

Anyone with information related to counterfeit merchandise is encouraged to contact law enforcement. The public may also call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1 (866) DHS-2ICE.