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Intellectual Property Rights
07/15/2010

Importer convicted of bribery and trafficking in counterfeit Chinese-made exercise equipment

LOS ANGELES - A federal jury convicted a Southern California woman Thursday of bribery and trafficking in counterfeit exercise equipment, the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility.

Chunchai "Katherine" Yu, 47, of Chino, Calif., was charged with trafficking counterfeit exercise equipment bearing names such as Malibu Pilates, Bowflex, Beachbody and Ab Circle Pro.

"This verdict should serve as a warning to those engaged in product counterfeiting and other types of commercial piracy," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles. "Intellectual property crimes like these not only result in the loss of untold U.S. jobs and revenues, but the importation of substandard or tainted products also poses a serious threat to consumers' health and safety."

Since 2007,Yu operated a business that imported exercise equipment from China into the United States. Evidence at the trial revealed that when two of the defendant's shipping containers were detained in July 2009 when officers discovered counterfeit equipment, Yu paid a bribe to an undercover ICE agent posing as a CBP official in exchange for the return of those containers. Yu continued to import counterfeit exercise equipment until her arrest in February 2010.

The retail value of the counterfeit exercise equipment seized from Yu totaled nearly $600,000, and were branded with counterfeited trademarks of products legitimately manufactured by Nautilus, Inc., Guthy-Renker Corp., Product Partners, LLC, and Fitness Brands, Inc.

Yu's sentencing is scheduled for September 27, when she faces a maximum sentence of 90 years in prison and fines totaling $12.5 million.