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Intellectual Property Rights

Washington state man pleads guilty to selling counterfeit goods on the Internet

SEATTLE - A former Island County, Wash., resident pleaded guilty in federal court today after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) showed he illegally imported more than $2 million in counterfeit goods and resold them on the Internet.

Bryan A. Polee, 28, who previously lived in Oak Harbor, Wash., and now resides in Riverside, Calif., started importing counterfeit goods from China in January 2005. Over the next three years, he operated under the name ZMP Enterprises and resold the fraudulent merchandise to unsuspecting members of the public on eBay.

The items he imported bore the trademark of reputable manufacturers including Nautilus, Inc., Fitness Quest and Homeland Housewares. Many of the counterfeit items are routinely advertised in television infomercials.

Court documents show that Polee imported and attempted to sell 3,177 Bowflex exercise units worth more than $1 million, 1,854 "Magic Bullet" blenders worth about $80,000, hundreds of exercise and financial advice DVDs, and more than 300 North Face Recon backpacks.

In April 2008, Polee was under investigation by ICE when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized a shipment of counterfeit goods at the Port of Tacoma destined for ZMP Enterprises. The value of that merchandise, all of which was counterfeit, exceeded $760,000.

"During these challenging economic times, this case serves as a reminder that enforcement of our nation's counterfeiting laws is about protecting the rights and economic interests of those who play by the rules and penalizing those who seek to turn a personal profit through the illegal sale of fraudulent products," said Leigh Winchell, ICE special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Seattle. "ICE remains committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who engage in the sale of sub-par, counterfeit goods, which could potentially jeopardize the public's safety."

During the course of the investigation, more than nine containers of counterfeit items associated with Polee have been seized by the government. All of the items will be destroyed.

In addition to forfeiting a 2003 Cadillac CTS, a 2000 Jaguar S-Type and $30,000, Polee will be formally sentenced May 15. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary K. Dimke.

Intellectual property rights violations involve the illegal use of trademarks, trade names and copyrights. It is estimated that U.S. industry alone loses 750,000 American jobs annually to counterfeiting. In federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, ICE and CBP made more than 14,000 seizures of counterfeited goods valued at more than $272.7 million. This represents a 38 percent increase in domestic value over FY 2007. China, the number one source country in FY 2008 for counterfeit goods seized, accounted for 81 percent of the total domestic value. India came in second with six percent of the overall value.

Editors note: Samples of some of the counterfeit merchandise seized in this case will be made available this afternoon to be photographed beginning at 3:30 PM. The items will be displayed in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conference room, 1000 Second Avenue, 23rd floor. To make arrangement to view the items, please contact Mike Milne at 206-553-6944, ext. 614.