WASHINGTON – The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) announced the kickoff of Operation Holiday Hoax, an effort to track down those who are selling counterfeit and pirated products this holiday season.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) –led IPR Center is working with partners U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the government of Mexico to target stores, flea markets and swap meets involved in the importation, distribution and selling of counterfeit and pirated products in cities across the United States and in Mexico. Additionally, CBP officers will be conducting inspections and seize counterfeit merchandise at various U.S. ports of entry.
“The counterfeiting and piracy epidemic continues to spread around the world,” said IPR Center Director Lev Kubiak. “Our partnership with the government of Mexico and the rest of our partners at the IPR Center show that this is a problem that affects everyone in the world, not just the United States. Together, we will continue to deliver blow after blow to criminals worldwide making a positive impact on American jobs here at home.”
This is the third year that the IPR Center has conducted Operation Holiday Hoax. Last year’s operation led to the seizure of more than 327,000 counterfeit and pirated items with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price worth an estimated $76.8 million. In 2009 the operation netted more than $26 million worth seized goods.
“The protection of intellectual property rights is one of CBP’s top priority trade issues,” said Assistant Commissioner for International Trade Al Gina. “Operations like this protect American businesses and consumers. CBP works daily to keep counterfeit goods out of the U.S. and to bring producers and distributors of these goods to justice.”
Last year, Mexico’s Tax Administration Service conducted 845 inspections in the main ports of entry, executed 160 search warrants nationwide and seized 23.8 million counterfeit and pirated items including 10 tons of used clothing, cigarettes, electronics, tools and DVD’s. The estimated value of the seized goods was 96.7 million pesos, or $7.1 million.
Holiday Hoax began Nov. 26 and is scheduled to run until Dec. 26. During that time federal and local law enforcement officers will seize products such as perfume, holiday lights, electronics, clothing and DVD’s. As in years past, most of these items are ordered online as part of the holiday shopping season.
The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.
To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.