The world of haute horlogerie is on guard after the seizure of some $83 million worth of counterfeit Audemars Piguet timepieces by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Texas. The confiscation of 7,800 was the second significant haul of counterfeit Audemars Piguet timepieces seized by the The Import Specialist Enforcement Team (ISET) in less than six months.
The haul was discovered when a CBP import specialist at the Laredo crossing selected a shipment of watches arriving by truck for a secondary examination, only to find that the watches were an unauthorized infringement upon Audemars Piguet’s trademark for the Royal Oak Octagonal Bezel Design. If the watches had made it to market at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, the shipment would have fetched $83 million.
“This seizure of $83 million in counterfeit watches is now the largest in port history and is the second multimillion dollar seizure involving the same Audemars Piguet design trademark in less than six months,” said Sidney Aki, CBP port director, Laredo Port of Entry. “As we approach the Christmas holidays, seizures like these help reassure both the trade community and the public that CBP remains committed to ensuring that recorded trademarks are protected and the American consumer is protected from counterfeit merchandise.”
The problem of counterfeit timepieces has become an increasing threat to the haute horlogerie industry by creating unfair and illicit competition.
Source and photos courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.