´╗┐Customs operation against sale of counterfeit goods on Internet auction site (with photo)

10 Dec 2009

Customs started mounting a targeted operation against the sale of counterfeit goods on an Internet auction site two weeks ago. Up till today (December 10), Customs have detected 17 cases involving the sale of counterfeit goods on the Internet auction site and arrested 19 people.

The Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau has mobilised about 100 Customs officers to conduct an operation code-named "Netstorm" targeting the sale of counterfeit goods on the Internet auction site since November 25.

During the operation, Customs officers seized 546 counterfeit items, including handbags, wallets, jewellery, sunglasses, clothes, shoes and socks. Fourteen computers used for related online auction dealings were also seized. The total seizure amounted to about $170,000. Moreover, 19 people, comprising 12 women and 7 men aged from 18 to 48, were arrested. Among them were 10 employed persons, five unemployed persons, two students and two housewives. They are on bail pending further investigations. The operation is ongoing.

The Head of the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau, Mr Albert Ho, said at a press briefing today that in the past, offenders usually delivered in person the counterfeit goods sold on Internet auction sites to the buyers. To minimise the risk of arrest, offenders had changed the means of delivery to using the postal service. These goods mainly involved counterfeit jewellery, watches, clothes, leather goods and sunglasses.

Mr Ho noted that it was not difficult to detect the sale of counterfeit goods through the Internet. Customs, with the assistance of Internet service providers, could easily track down the location of the computer used for related online auction dealings. Customs has been able to find out the offenders' details and apprehend them whatever the transaction modes adopted by the offenders.

Mr Ho said the sale of counterfeit goods was a serious crime and offenders would have a criminal record when convicted. He appealed to members of the public not to engage in the sale of counterfeit goods on Internet auction sites.

Customs will continue to conduct operation "Netstorm", especially during the Christmas and New Year holidays, with a view to combating the sale of counterfeit goods on Internet auction sites.

Meanwhile, Customs continues to maintain close co-operation with auction site operators in combating the sale of counterfeit goods on Internet auction sites. After consultation with Customs, the auction site operator has displayed on the auction site warnings to remind auctioneers not to sell counterfeit goods on the site. Also, the operator has shortened the time required for removal of suspected listings of counterfeit goods from one or two days to a few hours.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, it is a criminal offence to sell goods with forged trade marks. The maximum penalty is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Anyone who comes across any suspected counterfeiting activities can report to Customs by calling the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, December 10, 2009

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