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Intellectual Property Rights

DVDs and CDs seized in global operation

WASHINGTON - The World Customs Organization (WCO) and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) announced the seizure of tens of thousands of pirated and counterfeit CDs and DVDs at international mail facilities and express courier depots in the course of a global operation.

Forty-two countries participated in Operation Global Hoax, which aimed to stem this growing trade and stop these economic saboteurs from using postal and courier channels to move their illegal goods around the world.

As of early October, 30 Customs administrations had reported their final results while resulting investigations remain ongoing. More than 782 parcels were seized, yielding in excess of 142,000 DVDs and 28,000 CDs.

Customs also seized more than 271,000 other counterfeit items, including razors, pharmaceuticals, curling irons, household goods, watches, mobile phones and accessories, clothing, computer accessories, jewelry, video game gadgets, MP3/MP4 players and leather goods.

Some Customs administrations went even further; raiding street markets selling counterfeit and pirated goods, either on their own or in collaboration with other enforcement agencies. These informal markets have become a common point of sale for counterfeiters, offering a "supermarket" of illegal goods, including pyramids of DVDs and CDS.

"Using postal and express courier channels to move tens of thousands of counterfeit and pirated goods around the world is increasingly being exploited by criminal traders," said Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya. "Operation Global Hoax, which targeted the use of this means of transport for illegal goods yielded outstanding results, and is a clear demonstration of the Customs community's resolve to fight these global gangsters in partnership with all our key stakeholders."

Over $5 million worth of counterfeit and pirated DVDs and CDs were seized in the United States alone by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) who played an active role in the operation as partners of the IPR Center, one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against intellectual property theft.

"The smuggling of counterfeit goods robs Americans of jobs, steals the creative content of our artists and diverts legitimate revenue from responsible industries to the pockets of organized crime," said Director, John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which manages the IPR Center. "We thank the WCO for agreeing to coordinate this operation and facilitate the cooperation of so many member countries."

Global Hoax was coordinated by the WCO, which facilitated the sharing of information and made available CENcomm - its secure communication tool - to participating administrations for exchanging data on pirated and counterfeit products seized.

The WCO will continue its ongoing positive dialogue with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) on the misuse of the international postal system by organized counterfeiting gangs. UPU officials have welcomed the engagement with the WCO on this global problem and further talks are set to take place with a view to seeking an effective solution.

The U.S. coordinating body, the IPR Center, is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against IP theft. The IPR Center offers one-stop shopping for both law enforcement and the private sector to address the growing transnational threat of counterfeit merchandise. The IPR Center coordinates outreach to U.S. rights holders and conducts domestic and international law enforcement training to stem the growing counterfeiting threat as well as coordinating and directing anti-counterfeiting investigations. To learn more about the IPR Center, read tips for holiday buying and see the Intellectual Property Rights Seizure Statistics for FY 2009, go to www.ice.gov.

Report information on counterfeiting and trademark violations at (866) IPR-2060.