Over $10 million of counterfeit headphones seized

PORTAL U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized 24,660 counterfeit headphones with an illegitimate trademark of “Beats” at the Portal port-of-entry on Nov. 16. It is the largest seizure of counterfeit goods this year in the North Dakota and Minnesota region.

The total value of all the headphones was $10,776,420 based on the “manufacturer’s suggested retail price,” or MSRP, coming in at $437 per pair.

The headphones were manufactured in China, shipped across the Pacific Ocean and then landed at a port in Vancouver on Canada’s western seaboard. From there they were shipped in a container on the Canadian Pacific rail line to enter the United States through Portal, one of only two land-ports with rail capabilities in the state.

Shipping documents show that they would have continued on to Chicago and from there would have probably been distributed by truck or air throughout the United States, according to Brian King of the CBP.

“There were no arrests made and we’re not at liberty to provide any manufacturer or importer information,” King said in an interview. “Basically seizure of the goods is the course of action we take at the border … Our customs agents in Chicago, Ill., will investigate further.”

Like in much police work, gut feelings were what led to the find.

“The shipper information and the importer information drew scrutiny and then once our officers searched the container we could tell that there was some labeling that appeared not correct,” King said. “So then we verified if that shipper had a licensing agreement to ship that product. They did not and that is how we were able to determine if the goods are valid or not.”

Intellectual property rights enforcement is a priority mission for the CBP, he said, because infringements on those rights “threatens America’s economy and can threaten security and health and safety if they (consumers) purchase products that aren’t up to a certain standard.”

From Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012, CBP agents had 22,848 intellectual property right infringement seizures accounting for $1.26 billion in MSRP value and 72 percent of those goods originated in China.