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Fake designer sunglasses seized at L.A.-Long Beach port

September 22, 2010 | 11:31 am

Federal agents at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex seized thousands of pairs of knockoff sunglasses estimated to be worth more than $12 million, authorities said Wednesday.

The 78,600 pairs of sunglasses that arrived in three shipments from China look "confusingly similar" to designer brands such as Coach, Gucci and Emporio Armani, said officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"'Confusingly similar' means it is an imitation that is not an exact copy," said Jaime Ruiz, a spokesman for the agency. "Usually they modify the logo, so from a distance you can't tell the difference. They do this because they know the penalty for an exact copy is higher."

Officials said counterfeit products hurt legitimate manufacturers and that fake designer sunglasses may not be impact-resistant nor offer proper UV protection.

In fiscal 2009, U.S. ports had 14,841 cases of intellectual-property-rights seizures, worth $260.7 million, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In that year, the total value of all seized commodities presenting potential safety or security risks was $32 million.

Counterfeit sunglasses accounted for 9% of that total, or $2.9 million.

-- Ching-Ching Ni

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