New Enforcement Effort Targets Imports of Dangerous Electronics
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Dec. 14 the launch of an initiative targeting the illegal importation and distribution of counterfeit consumer electronics known to present health and safety hazards by overheating, igniting, and causing severe injuries and extensive property damage. This initiative will focus on electronics vulnerable to counterfeiting, including digital media devices, power adapters, and consumer technology powered by lithium ion batteries. It will provide additional resources to agents and allow investigators to more effectively track arrests, indictments, and convictions surrounding the illicit sale of these items.
An ICE press release notes that counterfeit electronics are routinely the second-most seized commodity during the course of intellectual property enforcement conducted by ICE and CBP. For example, from fiscal year 2013 to FY 2015 homeland security personnel made more than 17,000 seizures related to counterfeit consumer electronics. In addition, in FY 2016 CBP seized nearly 108,000 hoverboards at 54 different ports of entry for copyright violations.
The press release states that recent increased enforcement actions focused on fake electronics resulted in hundreds of seizures, which prompted the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center to review its operational portfolio and initiate a new effort dedicated to consumer electronics. There are also several dozen active investigations into the illegal sale of fake consumer electronics as well as multiple pending federal criminal prosecutions brought by the Department of Justice.