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Intellectual Property Rights

ICE seizes thousands of counterfeit items at Birmingham stores

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized nearly 1,400 counterfeit items with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of more than $400,000, at two Birmingham, Ala., stores May 23.

The enforcement operation was part of the continuing effort by ICE to track down individuals who sell counterfeit and pirated products. Special agents opened an investigation into The Purse Party and T-Shirt Heaven in March because they were suspected of distributing counterfeit merchandise.

With significant assistance from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, HSI special agents served federal search warrants at the stores May 23 and seized counterfeit items of numerous manufacturers, including Louis Vuitton, Coach, Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Nike, Ray Ban, Timberland, Michael Kors, Polo, Tory Burch, True Religion and D&G. A total of 1,395 items were seized with an MSRP of $402,507.

"Commercial piracy and product counterfeiting undermine the U.S. economy, rob Americans of jobs, stifle American innovation and promote other types of crime," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "HSI will continue to use its enforcement authorities to protect jobs and the income and tax revenue that disappear when criminals and criminal organizations traffic in stolen content for their own profit." Parmer oversees HSI activities in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Investigations involving the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods are coordinated through the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 20 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy. To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.