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Customs agents seize $12.3M in counterfeit water bottles

Distribution & Logistics
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Updated at 4:29 p.m.: A federal judge determined today that shipments of the bottles should continue on to their final destination in California, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s office.

"CBP officers work across the country to protect the American economy by ensuring that trademarked designs are not being used illegally. Suspected infringements on intellectual property rights result in those shipments being held for further inspection, and some are released after completion of administrative or judicial processes, as was the case with these shipments," the agency said in a statement.


Agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations have seized $12.3 million worth of counterfeit water bottles at the Port of Charleston.

The merchandise arrived from China and was destined for a drinkware distributor in California, according to a news release. Agents intercepted the water bottles in five separate cargo searches over the summer.

Federal agents seized nearly 350,000 knockoff water bottles coming into the Port of Charleston. (Photo/Provided)The agents decided to search the shipments when the importer failed to provide paperwork showing the manufacturer was authorized to produce the specific water bottle style, which mimicked designs by S’well. The New York City-based company produces reusable water bottles and other drinkware.

The agents’ examination found 346,000 plastic and stainless-steel bottles mimicking the trademarked designs of S’well, according to the news release. S’well representatives confirmed it was their design, the release said.

“It required thorough attention to detail and research to discover this trademark infringement,” Robert Fencel, Charleston-area port director, said in the release. “Their work demonstrates how committed CBP is to ensuring the designers and manufacturers of unique products are protected from those who would try to steal the profits from their hard work and ingenuity.”

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