On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the United States Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on the oversight of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Amongst several other subjects, the hearing discussed the ongoing efforts to dismantle the extremely costly counterfeiting industry. Attorneys across the country have been working tirelessly to protect and defend companies against copyright infringement from perpetrators who are typically located on the other side of the globe. One such attorney is Stark & Stark Shareholder Craig S. Hilliard, who has spent the past several years defending businesses in the bridal and wedding industry against these same counterfeiters.

At the hearing, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) explained that, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), of “the half a trillion dollars made of counterfeited goods, the U.S. is the biggest victim.” Approximately 20% of these goods are purchased and sent to the U.S., and most are typically sent as postal parcels, so as to remain undetected.

Senator Menendez also announced that a customs bill he co-authored had been passed by the Senate, and included language to “raise enforcement priority for parcels, especially those marked as ‘gifts’ to evade customs duties and detection.” In this explanation, Senator Menendez showed two DHL and FedEx packages, which were case exhibits used in litigation that Mr. Hilliard has been handling on behalf of the Bridal and Prom Industry Association. The exhibits were used by Senator Menendez to illustrate the point that offshore distributors have been utilizing parcel post methods to traffic counterfeit products into the United States by disguising them as “gifts,” citing his own New Jersey constituents as victims of this fraud.

Mr. Hilliard is a member of the Commercial Litigation Group and Chair of the Intellectual Property Group at Stark & Stark. He specializes his practice in the area of federal civil litigation.

You can watch the full recording of the U.S. Senate Committee hearing on the Committee on Finance website.