Border security seizes 2,380 'hoverboards'
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) Nearly 2,500 counterfeit hoverboards were seized at Charleston's port last month by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's border security.
Officials say the counterfeit hoverboards "violated trademark protections" and "posed a potential health risk to U.S. consumers." If the hoverboards had been authentic, officials said the shipments would have sold for about $1,666,000.
Counterfeit hoverboards have become a problem across the nation. Despite the dangers, they are still a popular toy and that popularity has fueled the demand for counterfeit parts, creating a new challenge for authorities.
"Since this issue started gaining attention back in November and December, we immediately started turning our attention to the shipments that were coming into the Port of Charleston and pretty much any shipment of hover boards, we've taken a look at, taken a sample from," said Brett Mueller, Supervisory Officer with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Mueller said the hover boards themselves don't have a standard, it's the battery inside that's the issue.
"The battery packs within the hover boards themselves had used a counterfeit trademark. They were listed as meeting a certain standard that the manufacturer didn't have permission to use," Mueller said.
Trademark infringement has led to crackdowns in other cities. Last month, Chicago authorities seized 16,000 hoverboards that did not meet U.S. standards. Officials said safety concerns have also fueled tighter scrutiny.
"Enforcing product safety laws and protecting intellectual property rights is a top priority for Customs and Border Protection," said Anthony Acrey, CBP's Acting Area Port Director for the Port of Charleston. "By seizing untested and potentially hazardous products at our nation's borders, CBP officers protect the American consumer and contribute to keeping our communities safe beyond the holiday season."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission said they are investigating the potential fire hazard in both standardized and counterfeit batteries. For more information, visit www.safer-products.gov.
Homeland Security officials ask that anyone aware of or suspecting a company of selling fake products to report them by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.