Image: Gucci

Luxury goods were among some of the most frequently-cited products in a recent release from China’s Customs agency outlining key counterfeit seizures over the past year. In its April 27, 2021 “Typical Cases of Intellectual Property Enforcement by Chinese Customs” report, the China National Intellectual Property Administration revealed that over the course of 2020, the General Administration of Customs blocked the import or export of no shortage of infringing and/or counterfeit goods – ranging from drug packaging bearing the “Pfizer” logo destined for Iraq and fake Johnson & Johnson branded band-aids set to be exported to Yemen to patent-infringing motorcycles and a sweeping number of trademark-bearing fashion/apparel goods. 

In the recently-released report, China’s National Intellectual Property Administration pointed to ten of the “typical” instances encountered by Chinese Customs in 2020. As outlined by Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner’s Aaron Wininger, some of these noteworthy seizures include … 

Hangzhou Customs Seizes Counterfeit Pfizer Drugs for Export: On July 7, 2020, a Yiwu-based import and export company declared to Hangzhou Customs a batch of small commodities, such as “pillow cores and paper boxes,” that were set to be exported to Iraq. After preliminary inspection by customs officers, the contents were found to include drug packaging boxes and instructions packets with the “Pfizer” logo in the container, instead of pillows and unmarked paper boxes. Customs inspectors revealed that they suspected that the exporters were shipping the actual drug capsules separately from the packaging in order to avoid detection and confiscation.

Following additional investigation, Customs seized a total of 690,200 pharmaceutical capsules, 96,000 pharmaceutical packaging boxes, and 71,400 pharmaceutical inserts with the “Pfizer” logo.

Qingdao Customs seizes infringing Champion sweatshirts: In April 2020, Qingdao Customs inspected an import from a science and technology company in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, which was confirmed to include a total of nearly 9,200 shirts bearing Hanesbrands-owned Champion’s famed logo. Customs determined that, if authentic, the goods would have had a retail value of 319,100 RMB ($49,538). This seizure led to a larger investigation of the importing company, and ultimately, led to the arrest of more than 20 criminal suspects, and the seizure of more than 300,000 pieces of counterfeit branded clothing (from Champion and other companies), worth nearly 200 million RMB ($31.04 million).

Beijing and Fuzhou Customs seize counterfeit Gucci, Ray Ban, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel products: On September 30, 2020, Beijing Customs received an export declaration form for nine different types of items declared by a company in Linyi City. While the export documentation listed the goods as “Women’s Jackets, etc.,” the 60,000 counterfeit goods – which were emblazoned with the trademarks of more than 10 different brands – actually consisted of glasses branded with “Gucci” and “Ray Ban” logos; leather bags with Louis Vuitton and Chanel’s trademark-protected logos; and sneakers that included “Prada” and “Air Jordan” logos, among other goods. 

During the same period, customs in Fuzhou, the capital of southeastern China’s Fujian province, increased its inspection efforts in response to the substantial increase in the number of goods shipped to the U.S. through smaller-batch postal channels (as distinct from mass shipments via air or sea), and seized a total of 1,612 infringing items bearing “Bose, “Rolex,” “Louis Vuitton,” “Cartier,” and “Gucci” trademarks, among others, which were worth an estimated 146,000 RMB ($22,666). 

The Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Huangpu Customs cracked down on export transshipment infringing goods: In March 2020, Shenzhen Customs discovered that a batch of cross-border goods that an e-commerce company in Hunan declared for export was slated to be transported by road to Hong Kong and then transferred to Singapore. After key inspections, 42,083 goods – including glasses and watches – were found infringing the trademark rights for 8 different parties by way of the use of marks, such as “Ray Ban” and “Porsche Design.” The value of the goods was estimated to be more than 1.953 million RMB ($303,204).