Building and maintaining trust in your brand is vital for any luxury goods retailer. You’ve spent a great deal of time, money, and effort reaching consumers and meeting their aspirations. But, there’s one key, critical area that can undo much of your good work—counterfeit products. Fake brands can harm your image and hurt your bottom line.
The good news? US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), together with licensed customs brokers, can both help you to protect your brand, prevent counterfeits, and import high-quality, original goods into the US marketplace.
Seizures of counterfeit luxury goods by USCBP
Counterfeit goods are a major issue, and USCBP invests considerable resources into tracking and seizing fake products. In 2021, USCBP seized over $3.3 billion of counterfeit products, with almost 75% of seizures coming from just five locations: China, Hong Kong, Turkey, The Philippines, and Colombia.
Luxury goods also made up the majority of seized products in 2021:
- Wearing apparel and accessories: 30%
- Handbags and wallets: 28%
- Footwear: 14%
- Watches and jewelry: 12%
USCBP states that in 2022, they seized almost 25 million counterfeit goods. Seizures of wallets and jewelry were worth more than $1.1 billion at MSRP, with seizures of handbags and wallets at almost $1 billion MSRP.
Many fake luxury products are shipped directly to consumers in small, express packages—particularly through eCommerce channels. Most of the seizures made by USCBP are from express parcels, followed by USPS mail and international cargo.
The risks of counterfeit luxury products
Fake goods create considerable risks for both your business and your consumers:
- Lost revenue to counterfeiters, resulting in lower profits.
- Lower quality goods, leading to potential health and safety issues for consumers.
- Lack of protections and compliance, resulting in products that breach licensing and regulatory standards.
- Stealing luxury market share from you as the legitimate provider of original products.
- Inferior products associated with your brand, resulting in a loss of reputation with consumers.
- Inadvertent support of criminal activities due to consumers buying fake luxury products from illegal sources.
Luxury retail brands can work alongside USCBP and customs brokers to protect their intellectual property rights and brand reputation. Businesses must take reasonable care when transporting and importing luxury products, including:
- Vetting suppliers and manufacturers and ensuring they comply with national and international standards, especially around areas such as forced labor, human trafficking, and other possible criminal intent.
- Understanding intellectual property rights in terms of protecting their brand and where counterfeiters are breaching those rights.
- Complying with national and international standards, regulations, certifications, and licenses.
- Partnering with reliable customs brokers and logistics providers who can secure, transport, and import genuine luxury products.
How customs brokers can help businesses reduce luxury product counterfeits
Here are several significant ways that partnering with a leading customs brokerage firm can reduce the impact of fake brands and counterfeit products.
Advise on registering luxury product trademarks and protecting intellectual property
USCBP uses trademark registrations to help identify products that are imported by genuine luxury retail brands. Any products that come from a source not registered as an authorized manufacturer by the trademark owner are likely to be challenged and potentially seized by USCBP.
A customs broker can provide deep insight on the best ways to protect your importation and intellectual property rights with a trademark. They can also work with your attorneys and provide advice on how USCBP interacts with trademark registrations.
Assist with recording your luxury trademark registration with USCBP
Here’s what USCBP says about recording your trademark registrations with them:
“If your business’s products are likely targets for international counterfeiters (e.g., popular or high-demand products), consider applying to record your trademark registration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Recording your trademark registration helps CBP detain and seize imported goods if they violate your recorded trademark. The recordation process is a critical tool in CBP’s efforts to protect intellectual property rights at the border.”— US Customs and Border Protection services for trademark owners
This can be a complex process, from applying to record your trademark through to periodic renewals with USCBP. A customs broker can file and renew on your behalf, or partner with you through every step.
Provide information to USCBP about your authorized manufacturers and importers
Once you’re recorded your trademarks with USCBP, you can provide additional information to help them track and seize counterfeits and fake brands. This information might include:
- Your list of approved suppliers and manufacturers, so that USCBP can check port entry information against this list and flag any exceptions.
- Your list of approved carriers and importers, so that products arriving by different means are flagged by USCBP.
- Information on any unauthorized shipments you’re aware of from investigations or tips.
Promptly file foreign trade documents for all planned and expected luxury goods imports into the US
The prompt filing of foreign trade documents and import information gives USCBP the visibility they need to track, trace, and seize fake products. But preparing, checking, and filing this paperwork creates a significant administrative overhead. A customs broker will integrate with your team to simplify and streamline all aspects of document processing.
Provide end-to-end secure supply chains from the manufacturer through to the destination
Some customs brokers are part of an international third-party logistics (3PL) network. This means they can guarantee worldwide security for your luxury products, including:
- Picking up goods from the manufacturer.
- Domestic transport in the country of origin.
- Delivery of products to the exporting port.
- Transfer of products to the international carrier.
- Filing of foreign trade documents with USCBP.
- International transport of luxury products.
- Receipt and import of the goods into the US.
- Storage of luxury goods prior to release into the marketplace.
- Warehousing and order fulfillment to wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.
- Transportation and last-mile delivery.
Offer secure and fully compliance logistics services
A good 3PL provider will have certified and compliant facilities and services. Look for 3PLs that provide:
- Certification to rigorous standards including ISO and other regulatory frameworks.
- Adherence to Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT), TAPA, safety, legal, and other standards.
- Compliance with the World Customs Organization SAFE framework of standards.
- Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) certification.
- Secure and verified transport for all luxury products.
- Robust security controls in every part of the supply chain.
Ensure you stay in good standing with USCBP
A customs broker is a trusted partner when it comes to interacting with USCBP. They will ensure you’re fully compliant with all regulations and frameworks. Customs brokerage for luxury goods can include:
- Providing end-to-end customs brokerage at all US points of entry, fully integrated with global ocean and airfreight operations.
- Preparing and filing customs documents electronically, including foreign trade documents, declarations, claims, and other information.
- Classifying luxury products coming through customs according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
- Clearing all luxury goods through customs for temporary or permanent import or export.
- Obtaining any necessary licenses for the import or export of luxury goods.
- Calculating and paying customs duties, tariffs, taxes, and other fees on behalf of clients.
- Filing claims and collecting refunds on luxury goods as part of duty drawback.
- Transporting and storing goods as part of international supply chain, transportation, and logistics services.
- Optimizing customs and carrying out tariff engineering to reduce duties and other fees on luxury products.
- Storing goods in a Foreign Trade Zone, bonded warehouse, or other storage facilities.
- Centralizing customs reporting and information sharing via a customs control tower.
- Reporting and record keeping for all aspects of the import, export, and customs clearance processes.
- Consulting on all aspects of customs brokerage to help clients lower fees, remove delays, meet compliance, and optimize processes.
- Educating clients on important changes to customs laws and regulations so they are properly prepared for new rules and frameworks.
- Supporting clients with goods inspection, audits, and other regulations.
Trust GEODIS to provide customs brokerage and brand protection for your luxury supply chain
Here at GEODIS, we’re experts in the fast-moving world of luxury retail. We understand the pressures you’re under, the risks you face, and the need to protect your brand reputation from counterfeit products. Our experienced customs brokers provide a complete range of services for luxury retail, from brand protection, customs clearance, and temporary imports, through to tariff engineering and duty drawback. Even better, we’re part of the global GEODIS network, spanning more than 170 countries—so we’re there wherever you are.