Customs busts P556M fake designer bags and apparel
The Bureau of Customs is alarmed that even Filipino brands are being counterfeited
SEIZED. Customs Director Willie Tolentino (left) inspects the seized items with Intellectual Property Office Director Frisco Guce (right). Photo from the Bureau of Customs

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized two shipments of counterfeit goods with an estimated value of over P556-million ($12.74 million*) at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) on Thursday, July 3.

The shipment included “Class A” bags and clothing bearing faked marks from a local brand.

“What is alarming to us is that even local brands are victims of counterfeiting which will cause more harm to our entrepreneurs, causing them to become unprofitable and unproductive, which, in the end, may threaten hundreds of jobs,” said Willie Tolentino, BOC Director of Enforcement and Security Service.

The first shipment from China, a 20-foot container van that arrived at the MICP in March,  was consigned to Bangladesh Business Corporation.  

While the consignee declared imported goods  consisting of unbranded T-shirts, cargo short pants, leggings, and plastic slippers, a physical examination last week revealed almost 5,000 pieces of fake brand-name apparel labeled with Nike, Adidas, US Polo, Lee, Aeropostale, and H&M.

The second shipment, a 40-foot container that arrived in May at MICP also from China, was consigned to NSGV Trading and was declared to contain assorted women’s blouses, polyester cotton fabric, polyester women’s pants, jackets, coats,  scarves, board paper, ladies’ canvas shoes, PVC flooring, assorted plastic cases, belts and caps, and skateboards.

An examination of the shipment revealed over 15,960 assorted undeclared items, mostly  counterfeit or “Class A” luxury bag models like the Hermes Evelyne and Hermes Lindy, Ralph Lauren Ricky, Tory Burch Ella tote, Prada Saffiano Lux tote, Celine Phantom, Michael Kors Selma satchel and Michael Kors Jet Set tote, and the Burberry Susana hobo tote.

The shipment also contained fake Fitflop Fleur sandals, Lacoste wallets and tote bags, Ray-Ban eyewear, and clothing and footwear bearing local brands “Onesimus” and “Una Rosa.”

The proprietor of the said firm denied ownership of the shipment.

Intellectual property rights at stake

Both shipments will be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings, then the seized goods will be destroyed. Customs authorities have also coordinated with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Philippines to alert the brand owners.

The consignees and their customs brokers are also under investigation for smuggling-related cases, as well as violation of Republic Act (RA) 8293, or the Intellectual Property (IP) Code of the Philippines.

Tolentino noted that smuggled counterfeit goods have a “negative impact…[on] legitimate businesses in the country.”

From January to June 2014, the inter-agency National Committee on IPR (NCIPR), which includes the BOC, seized counterfeit products worth over P6.8-billion ($155.75 million), up 215% year-on-year.

In April, the crackdown against the proliferation of fake goods prompted the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to remove the Philippines from the Special 301 Watch List, an annual report of countries with weak enforcement and observance of intellectual property laws, after nearly 20 years of being on it.

 *($1 = P43.64)