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Intellectual Property Rights

Man sentenced to 37 months for trafficking in counterfeit airbags

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A citizen from the People's Republic of China was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in prison following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol – Criminal Investigation Division.

Dai Zhensong, 28, was sentenced as a result of an August guilty plea to five counts of intentionally trafficking counterfeit airbags. Chief U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier also ordered Zhensong to serve three years supervised release and to pay $210,738 in restitution.

In September 2010, six boxes containing 68 airbags originating from Guangzhou Global Auto Parts International Group Co. LTD (Guangzhou Auto Parts), located in Guangyhon City, People's Republic of China, were intercepted by HSI and determined to be counterfeit items. The counterfeit airbags were delivered to a Chattanooga address by HSI special agents in a controlled delivery.

Zhensong was a partial owner and manager of the international department of Guangzhou Auto Parts, a company that specializes in the production of auto parts, many of which are counterfeit according to information entered at court. He entered the United States in October 2010 and traveled to Chattanooga to sell additional counterfeit airbags and other auto parts. The counterfeit airbags were manufactured by purchasing genuine auto airbags, which were torn down and used to produce molds to manufacture the counterfeit airbags. Trademark emblems were purchased through Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW and other dealerships located in China and affixed to the counterfeit airbags. The counterfeit airbags were advertised on the Guangzhou Auto Parts website and sold for approximately $57 each, far below the value of an authentic airbag. To date, more than 300 counterfeit airbags originating from Guangzhou Auto Parts have been seized in Chattanooga, with a value of approximately $210,738, which is the agreed amount for restitution.

"This case is an excellent illustration of how the manufacturing, smuggling and selling of counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "Not only do these products do financial harm to trademark holders, in this instance testing proved that had the counterfeit airbags deployed in an automobile accident, the resulting explosion and shrapnel could have seriously injured or killed occupants of the vehicle. This case represents why HSI remains so committed to an aggressive approach towards enforcing intellectual property rights laws."

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said, "The United States and its citizens have to remain vigilant about the criminal efforts to undermine our system of patents and trademarks. The sentence imposed in this case will deter others from illegally marketing unsafe and damaged goods in our country."

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.