Forged Dreams: DHS and Counterfeiting
In February 2013, US Customs and Border Protection agents, along with other branches of the Department of Homeland Security, seized $5 million in counterfeit merchandise in an operation called “Forged Dreams.” More recently, in August 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers seized $1.2 million in fake designer watches.
These examples highlight the important role the Department of Homeland Security plays in protecting intellectual property rights in the US. In 2012 alone, DHS officers make seized $1.26 billion of merchandise related to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations. Central to this effort is the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a task force within DHS. The IPR Center coordinates with other US government offices, in addition to partnering with other bodies such as INTERPOL, EUROPOL, and the Canadian and Mexican governments.
DHS uses border search and seizure statutes as well as investigative authority to seize goods and prosecute individuals and importers who bring into the US merchandize that is fake or in violation of IPR. As there are over 300 ports of entry into the US, DHS has used technology to bolster its efforts. IPR holders can register their copyright with CBP, and CBP, ICE, and the IPR Center all have websites where individuals can report fraud. CBP also has laboratories around the country where scientists can analyze products, particularly items such as pharmaceuticals, jewelry, and food. DHS has made protection of IPR a priority not only to protect intellectual property rights holders, but also to protect consumers from dangerous products.