Special Report

The Nine Most Counterfeited Products in America

9. Optical Media
> MSRP of seized goods: $26.8 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 2%

The number of shipments of counterfeit optical media products, such as games, DVDs and CDs, the CBP seized fell to 1,409 last year from 2,892 in 2012. The value of the seized counterfeit optical media products fell by 30% from $38.4 million in 2012 to $26.8 million in 2013. According to IPR’s Randazzo, the drop in seizures may be partly attributable to the Internet, as “the piracy has moved to websites and moved to downloads.” Last year, in an effort to fight online piracy, Internet service providers banded together to introduce the Copyright Alert System, designed to fight copyright infringement by warning users against illegal file sharing and downloading.

8. Labels/Tags
> MSRP of seized goods: $41.8 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 2%

The number of counterfeit labels — trademarked logos and hang tags that are not attached to products — seized in 2013 was effectively unchanged from 2012. The value of these seizures, however, increased more dramatically than of all but two other products. Last year, the market value of counterfeit labels seized rose by 59% to $41.8 million. Because consumers recognize many products and brands according to their labels and tags, the fake labels help deceive buyers and make imitations look more authentic. Counterfeiters often smuggle the fake labels and the fake products into the United States separately, Randazzo told 24/7 Wall St. That way, “if the counterfeiters lose the shipment of labels and tags, it’s not that big of a loss because they still have the shipment of handbags [or other goods].”

7. Computers/Accessories
> MSRP of seized goods: $47.7 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 3%

Slightly more than 1,000 shipments of computers and accessories were seized in 2013. The counterfeit computer seizures accounted for 4% of all counterfeit seizures and for 3% of the total value of all counterfeit goods seized. Last year, the total value of such goods seized was more than $13 million, or 37.5%, higher than the year before. This is despite the fact that genuine PC shipments have declined worldwide during that time. Randazzo explained that accessories can include a large range of products, including “integrated circuits, semiconductors, networking hardware, [and] printer cartridges.” The Semiconductor Industry Association released a report in August, noting that counterfeit semiconductors can cause dangerous malfunctions in medical equipment and even in household appliances.

6. Footwear
> MSRP of seized goods: $54.9 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 3%

CBP agents reported 1,683 seizures of contraband footwear in 2013, 214 less seizures than in the year before. The value of these seizures dropped by nearly 47% in 2013, from $103.4 million in 2012. This was one of the largest percentage declines among products reviewed. “Footwear used to always be the number one commodity,” Randazzo said. “And I think we’ve seized so many container loads of counterfeit shoes that we’ve actually maybe started to have an effect.” This is likely something of a relief to shoe companies, especially Nike, whose shoes are widely believed to be among the most counterfeited footwear brands.

5. Pharmaceuticals/Personal Care
> MSRP of seized goods: $79.6 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 5%

CBP agents seized nearly $80 million worth of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and personal care products last year. This was 4% lower from the nearly $83 million of such shipments seized in 2012, and down 44% from $142 million in 2011. Total seizures of such products fell in 2013 to 2,215 from 2,350 the year before. The decrease in seizures can be the result of increased international efforts to crack down on the sale of fake prescription drugs. Randazzo noted that the CBP and other groups have aggressively pursued counterfeit drug operations and shut down websites selling drugs online “because of the threat to consumer health and safety.” More than $18 million worth of fake pharmaceuticals and personal care goods originated in India, accounting for 88% of illicit goods seized from the country last year. An additional $43.7 million of such goods came from China.


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