International cooperation is the route to reducing the threat of counterfeit merchandise, said a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official at the 2009 International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference in Dublin, Ireland, last week.
Daniel Baldwin, the assistant commissioner for CBP's Office of International Trade, told attendees that the United States puts a priority on intellectual property protection and said "we recognize that this global challenge cannot be solved without global cooperation and collaboration," according to a CBP release. The release also highlighted the following successes of international collaboration:
- In Operation Cisco Raider, CBP collaborated with our Canadian partners, particularly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and with other U.S. government agencies—including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The target was the North American distribution of counterfeit [Cisco Systems] network hardware that was manufactured in China. The result of this initiative was more than 400 seizures of counterfeit Cisco network hardware and labels with an estimated retail value of more than $76 million. This joint effort effectively dismantled the North American supply chains for these counterfeit products from China.
- CBP is working closely with the European Union to implement a five-point customs IPR action plan. In Operation Infrastructure, 360,000 semiconductors and computer network hardware components bearing 40 different trademarks were seized in a three-week period in November 2007. Counterfeit versions of these items pose health and safety risks to consumers, threatens advanced infrastructure, and undercut innovation.
- The Governments/Authorities Meeting on Semiconductors in Korea last week was the first-ever meeting with customs authorities from all six major semiconductor producing economies to discuss the problems posed by trade in counterfeit semiconductor products.
The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition estimates that counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses $200 to $250 billion annually and that the U.S. seized more than $270 million worth of counterfeit goods last year.
Additionally, IACC states that the Food and Drug Administration estimates that counterfeit drugs account for 10 percent of drugs sold in the United States. For more on counterfeit drugs, see Smithsonian.com's recent feature, "The Fatal Consequences of Counterfeit Drugs" or Assistant Editor Stephanie Berrongs' article "Fake Medicines Require Global Remedy" from the September 2009 issue.
♦ Photo of CBP officers inspecting cargo by James R. Tourtellotte/CBP.gov