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Intellectual Property Rights

New York business agrees to forfeit $1.9 million in 'gray market' watches

Boneta Inc. also must pay a $325,000 penalty

NEW YORK - A business located in New York's Diamond District has agreed to forfeit $1.9 million worth of illegally imported Rolex watches and parts, and pay a $325,000 penalty for illegally importing trademarked merchandise intended for sale in another country. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Boneta Inc. came to the attention of ICE HSI agents after its owner, Erik Boneta, attempted to import shipments of "gray market" Rolex watches from Hong Kong through John F. Kennedy International Airport. This merchandise was authorized by Rolex to be sold only outside the United States.

Items manufactured for sale in other countries are typically priced lower than those that are authorized for sale within the United States. These items are commonly referred to as "gray market" merchandise.

After seizing the shipments, ICE HSI agents conducted an investigation into Boneta's import activity. A subsequent search of Boneta's offices resulted in seizing more than 200 Rolex watches and hundreds of Rolex watch parts.

"HSI's effort to enforce laws protecting copyright and trademark holders is a long term commitment," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI in New York. "Our goal is to put an end to the ability of companies like Boneta Inc. to perpetrate such illegal conduct."

"We will enforce the laws that prohibit the illegal importation of trademarked merchandise at the border and where the merchandise is sold," stated U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York.

Included in the terms of the settlement, Boneta, Inc., consented to increased penalties for any future illegal importations of trademarked merchandise. ICE HSI was assisted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura D. Mantell, Eastern District of New York, prosecuted this case.