WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that in fiscal year 2010 their continuing commitment to fight the trade in stolen intellectual property yielded 19,959 seizures, a 34 percent increase over 2009 numbers. Seizures of products that could have harmed consumers, vital infrastructure and national security soared 97 percent over the previous year, and accounted for 23 percent of all Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) seizures by domestic value.
The total domestic value of the fake goods seized in fiscal year 2010 totaled $188.1 million, the estimated manufacturer's suggested retail price, the value the goods would have had if they had been the real thing totaled $1.4 billion.
"Fiscal year 2010 was a very successful year for the ICE-led Intellectual Property Coordination Center and our law enforcement partners," said ICE Director John Morton. "The protection of intellectual property is a top priority for Homeland Security Investigations, as counterfeit products represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy and sometimes dangerous, goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs. The IPR Center will continue to strengthen its efforts in 2011 in order to keep counterfeit products off our streets."
"The risks of counterfeit products go beyond damaging the reputation of a name on a label; consumers can put their health, or even their lives, at risk when they purchase seemingly harmless items such as medicines, perfume and holiday lights. Ultimately, the cost of purchasing a fake product is much greater than the savings and may result in catastrophic consequences," said CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin.
Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods poses significant threats to the United States innovation-based economy, the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of U.S. workers, and in some cases, national security and the health and safety of consumers.
China continues to be the number one source country for counterfeit and pirated goods seized, accounting for 66 percent or $124.6 million of the total domestic value of seizures.
For the fifth year in a row, footwear was the top product seized, accounting for more than 24 percent of the entire domestic value of IPR-infringing goods.
The top 10 categories of IPR-infringing products seized were footwear, consumer electronics, wearing apparel, handbags/wallets, optical media, computers/hardware, cigarettes, watches/parts, jewelry, and pharmaceuticals.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off our streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind such illicit activity.
As the federal agency responsible for the management, control and protection of U.S. borders, CBP is on the frontline of IPR enforcement. The men and women of CBP protect our nation's economy, the safety of its people, and our national security against harm from counterfeit and pirated goods. The continued vigilance of CBP personnel protects United States citizens and businesses every day.
The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center is led by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and includes partners from CBP; the FBI; the Department of State; the Food and Drug Administration; the Postal Inspection Service; the Department of Commerce; the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; the Defense Logistics Agency; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the Army Criminal Investigative Command; the General Services Administration; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; INTERPOL; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and the Government of Mexico Tax Administrative Service.
The IPR Center allows law enforcement and the private sector jointly to address the growing transnational problem of counterfeit products. The IPR Center coordinates outreach to U.S. rights holders and conducts domestic and international law enforcement as well as coordinates and directs anti-counterfeiting investigations.
The annual intellectual property rights seizures report is now available on the CBP and ICE websites.