What Importers Should Know about Counterfeit Goods

The rise of e-commerce in recent years has also meant a rise in counterfeit imports. Learn about why counterfeit goods are dangerous and steps you can take to help prevent them.

Is it illegal to import counterfeit goods?

Yes. Be advised importing counterfeit goods is illegal and a priority enforcement area for Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Regulatory government agencies, including CBP, are discussing ways to enhance enforcement in this area.

Why are counterfeit imports dangerous?

Counterfeit goods can…

  • expose end-users to faulty products
  • be linked to human trafficking
  • harm legitimate businesses
  • be linked to forced labor

It is illegal to purchase counterfeit goods. Bringing them into the United States may result in civil or criminal penalties and purchasing counterfeit goods often supports criminal activities, such as forced labor or human trafficking.

The Truth Behind Counterfeits | U.S. Customs and Border Protection (emphasis added)

How can I make sure I don’t import counterfeit goods?

It is the importer’s responsibility to know their supply chain, from the products they import to the many parties involved in manufacturing and moving their goods.

While some commodities are more likely to be counterfeited than others, any product could be subject to counterfeiting, and all importers are obligated to exercise reasonable care in this matter.

Here are a few examples of exercising reasonable care to prevent counterfeit imports:

Vet your suppliers

Make sure to properly vet your suppliers when it comes to buying any products for importation.

This is one of the most important things importers can do to exercise reasonable care.

Understand intellectual property rights

Importers must also come up with reliable procedures to determine if a product falls under intellectual property rights.

CBP’s Informed Compliance Publication on “Reasonable Care” lists several questions that importers should be able to answer regarding intellectual property rights and their supply chain.

The first question is:

If you are importing goods or packaging bearing a trademark registered in the United States, have you checked or established a reliable procedure to ensure that it is genuine and not restricted from importation under the gray-market or parallel import requirements of U.S. law (see 19 C.F.R. § 133.21), or that you have permission from the trademark holder to import such merchandise?

Informed Compliance Publication Reasonable Care (cbp.gov), pg. 13

Follow the link above to see the other 4 questions CBP considers important in exercising reasonable care regarding intellectual property rights and counterfeit goods.

Work with a Customs broker you trust

Importers are held accountable for knowing their supply chain, even if they work with a Customs broker.

But a trusted Customs broker is a valuable resource for importers, as they will have in-depth knowledge about and experience with Customs compliance.

Additional resources on counterfeit imports

  • CBP’s page on Priority Trade Issues provides valuable information on their efforts to participate in this initiative. We urge you to read the topics highlighted as bullet points.

If you have any questions concerning your imports and any possibility they may be counterfeit, please contact C J’s Compliance Officer, Samya (Sam) Murray at sdmurray@cjinternational.com.

Our blog posts are for informational purposes only. While we use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate information, C J is not liable or responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any information contained herein.


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