Leap in fake watch and jewelry seizures in US last year

Swiss watch detailSeizures by US customs of counterfeit watches and jewelry more than doubled last year, accounting for a third of all intercepted shipments by retail value.

All told, there were over 24,000 seizures of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringing products last year - up 7 per cent on 2012 - with the total retail value rising to $1.74bn from $1.26bn.

The latest figures from US Customs and Border Control (CBP) show watches/jewelry seizures rose 169 per cent to reach a value of more than $500m, consolidating the category's second place in the rankings after handbags and wallets with a value of $700m.

Consumer electronics advanced one place up the rankings to number three ($145m), followed by clothing/accessories ($116m). For the first time, foot wear dropped out of the top five categories, being replaced by pharmaceuticals with a value of $79m, little down on the prior year.

All told, 68 per cent of seized counterfeit and pirated goods (by domestic retail value) originated from China last year, down from 72 per cent in 2012 but roughly in line with the proportion seen in 2011.

The total value of goods seized from China was $1.1bn, and one of the highlights of the year was a month-long joint operation between US and Chinese customs - the first of its kind - which resulted in the seizure of 1,735 shipments and prevented 243,000 fake electronic products entering the US supply chain.

Also notable was the range of countries acting as the source of these illicit goods, with seizures from 73 additional economies in 2013. Hong Kong was the next largest source economy at 25 per cent of the seizure total by value, with India a distant third with 1 per cent. All other markets accounted for less than 1 per cent of the total.

Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) also seized control of 1,413 websites trading in these illicit goods in 2013, and there were 692 arrests, 401 criminal indictments, and 451 criminal convictions for criminal IPR infringement activities during the year. The official report of the data is available here.

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