Counterfeit brand-name shoes have become a multi-million-dollar criminal industry — and would-be lawbreakers can’t seem to stay away.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport, in coordination with the Apparel, Footwear and Textiles Center of Excellence, announced today that they seized 14,806 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes. If genuine, the seized shoes would have an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $2,247,680, the officials noted.
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CBP officers and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations special agents discovered the shoes — which they described as highly-coveted special edition Nike and other retro designs — while conducting an enforcement exam on a shipment arriving from China. The shoes, which arrived in two containers, were mis-declared as “napkins” in what the officials called “a clear attempt to disguise the illicit cargo.”
CPB also noted that AFT Center import specialists and the trademark owner — presumed to be Nike Inc. — confirmed that the shoes were in violation of Nike’s Air Jordan 1 Off-White, Air Jordan 12, Air Jordan 1 (blue, black, red, white), Air Jordan 11, Air Max ’97 protected designs and trademarks. The officials estimated that some of knockoffs — if they were legitimate — could have sold for up to $2,000 online.
“Transnational criminal organizations continue to profit from American intellectual property by selling their counterfeit and piratical goods not only in the U.S. but around the world,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge at HIS Los Angeles, in a statement.
Counterfeit imports and knock-offs at large have been a significant challenge for U.S. brands — particular those in the sneaker space, where the lucrative resale market has been particularly enticing for would-be offenders.
In recent years, organizations such as the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America and the American Apparel and Footwear Association have worked to help some brands defend their trademarks and prevent the manufacturing of knock-offs in China, in particular. The country meanwhile has struggled to ward off its reputation as a counterfeit haven — that effort more recently has been helped by what experts have described as a growing appetite among Chinese consumers for branded wares.