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US in huge federal crackdown on alleged luxury fakes from China

Posted by Author on August 4, 2010

AFP, Aug. 4, 2010 –

SAN FRANCISCO — US authorities announced Tuesday the biggest federal crackdown ever on West coast shopowners who allegedly sell counterfeit luxury handbags and other goods worth some 100 million dollars.

Prosecutors said they have charged operators of eight San Francisco shops with selling suspected designer fakes made in China, the US attorney for northern California and US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said.

The 25-count indictment is “part of the largest federal enforcement action ever taken against West Coast retailers suspected of selling counterfeit designer apparel and accessories,” they said in a statement.

“To consumers who think designer knockoffs are a harmless way to beat the system and get a great deal, ‘buyer beware,'” said ICE Director John Morton.

“Trademark infringement and intellectual property crime not only cost this country much needed jobs and business revenues, but the illegal importation of substandard products can also pose a serious threat to consumers’ health and safety,” he said.

Authorities revealed the details of the case in an indictment unsealed Monday. The indictment was filed in federal court July 22.

It charged the defendants, mostly residents of San Francisco, with conspiracy, smuggling goods into the United States, and trafficking in counterfeit goods.

“The investigation has led to the seizure of nearly 100 million dollars worth of counterfeit merchandise [based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) had the products been legitimate],” a statement said.

Among the items seized were “clothing, handbags, wallets, jewelry, watches, scarves, sunglasses and shoes that were illegally imported from China,” it said.

The suspected counterfeit items purported to be luxury brands such as Dooney and Bourke, Nike, Coach and Kate Spade, Armani, Burberry, Prada and Louis Vuitton.

“Interdicting and destroying counterfeit and trademark infringing goods has long been a priority of the federal government,” US Attorney Joseph Russoniello said.

“The significant impact of trafficking in such merchandise on the American economy should be obvious.”

AFP

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