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CBP Intercepts Over $150k in Counterfeit Signature Model Guitars

Christian Wissmuller • Upfront • February 9, 2021

Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Recently, U.S. Customs And Border Protection (CPB) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport seized 36 counterfeit guitars that, if authentic, would have had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $158,692.

The guitars arrived via 36 different shipments from China on December 15. The guitars were suspected to be counterfeit and officials detained them to continue their investigation. The collection consisted of 27 Gibson, six Fender, two CF Martin, and one Paul Reed Smith guitars.

Many of the Gibsons were copies of signature Les Paul lines of custom guitars honoring Jimmy page, Slash, and Ace Frehley. The most expensive forgery was a Gibson Ace Frehley guitar valued at an MSRP of $9,000. The guitars were destined to arrive in 21 states and Australia.

CBP import specialists worked with the trademark holders and confirmed the guitars to be counterfeit. CBPO officers completed the seizure on January 20.

Counterfeit consumer goods are illegal, violate lawful property rights, result in job loss, steal tax revenues from our nation’s economy, and are often constructed in unregulated facilities with potentially harmful materials that could threaten consumers’ health. CBP encourages consumers to protect themselves and their families by always purchasing safe, authentic goods from reputable vendors.

“Transnational criminal organizations will counterfeit anything that generates illicit revenues, and unscrupulous vendors line their pockets by preying on unsuspecting consumers,” said Keith Fleming, CBP’s acting director of field operations in Baltimore. “Protecting intellectual property rights is a Customs And Border Protection trade enforcement priority, and CBP officers will continue to seize counterfeit and potentially unsafe consumer goods when we encounter them.”

CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement program. Importation of counterfeit merchandise can cause significant revenue loss, damage the U.S. economy, and threaten the health and safety of the American people.

On a typical day in 2019, CBP officers seized $4.3 million worth of products with Intellectual Property Rights violations.

The People’s Republic of China (mainland China and Hong Kong) remain the primary source economy for seized counterfeit and pirated goods, accounting for 83 percent of all IPR seizures and 92 percent of the estimated MSRP value of all IPR seizures.

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