Massive haul of fake Pokémon caught in Pennsylvania

US customs intercepted a counterfeit Pokémon toy shipment – worth an estimated $600,000 at genuine product prices – that made its way to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The collectible figurines were sent in 15 boxes from Hong Kong – marked plastic furnishing articles – and were en route to a location in Snyder County, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

There were 86,000 Pokémon figures in the shipment that on inspection by customs were found to have infringed US intellectual property rights help by The Pokémon Company and gaming giant Nintendo.

Counterfeit toys often don’t meet safety standards and can pose a choking hazard, and it isn’t uncommon form the contain lead-based paints that can be very harmful, especially to young children.

Michelle Stover, CBP’s Port Director for the Port of Harrisburg, said: “CBP officers remain committed to working with our consumer safety partners to protect American consumers by seizing dangerous counterfeit goods at our nation’s ports of entry.”

Estimates of the size of the counterfeit toy market are hard to find, but a report published by the OECD and EU Intellectual property Office last year estimated that fake toys accounted for 3 per cent of the total $509bn world trade in counterfeit good, equivalent to around $15bn. Around 85 per cent of fake toys come from China, according to the OECD.

In 2017, the European Commission reported seizure of approximately 3.5m fake toys at EU borders, equating to a value of over €21m ($23m) but likely only a fraction of the total entering the bloc, while the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) estimates that UK manufacturers lost £400m ($488m) in sales to counterfeiters in 2017.

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