A group of law enforcement officers from the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area converged at the 2015 Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Training Fair Aug. 19 to learn more about counterfeiting ― one of the most pervasive and serious crimes of today. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Dallas hosted the event to bring greater understanding of counterfeiting (a crime that comes under the heading of IPR violations) and how to combat it.
IP theft is a problem that goes much deeper than buyers purchasing fake name-brand purses, shoes or football jerseys at a discount. This alone harms the U.S. economy and robs American workers of jobs. But profits from “knock-offs” also often support criminal organizations involved in weapons trafficking, drug smuggling and other illegal activities.
Another serious consequence of IP theft is that counterfeit goods are by their very nature, substandard, often harmful and sometimes deadly. Authorities have found circuit breakers that explode, tainted animal food and anti-freeze-laden toothpaste, as well as fake cancer medications, airbags and computer chips (the latter used by the U.S. military).
Everyday items, such as light bulbs, baby formula, razor blades, bottled water and breakfast cereal have also been found to be counterfeited. In fiscal year 2014, U.S. authorities seized more than $1.2 billion worth of counterfeit products, 63 percent of which were produced in China and another 25 percent were produced in Hong Kong.
HSI uses the force-multiplier method to crack down on IPR theft and works with local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies to protect IPR and combat the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit merchandise.
HSI Dallas leads a local IPR task force, and HSI special agents have nationwide jurisdiction and international access to reach the overseas sources of IP criminal organizations. The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) works with 23 partner agencies, including its international partners in Mexico, Canada, Interpol and Europol, to fight IPR crime.
Guests in attendance at the IPR Training Fair also included private industry representatives from Samsung, Estee Lauder, Altria Client Services, Motion Picture Association of America, Pfizer and Louis Vuitton.
ICE urges the public to report suspected counterfeit operations by calling HSI’s toll-free hotline at 866-347-2423.