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Agents seize $1 million in knockoff sound systems at Minnesota border

Border agents seized nearly $1 million worth of knockoff home sound systems Friday at the Ranier rail crossing from Ontario into Minnesota. U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo1 / 2
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents on Friday seized nearly $1 million worth of counterfeit home sound systems at the Ranier railroad border crossing. The knockoff units were imported in violation of federal intellectual property rights laws. U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo.2 / 2

U.S. Customs agents on Friday confiscated nearly $1 million of counterfeit home theater sound systems that were being imported into the country in a rail car at Rainier, just outside International Falls.

Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations officers inspected the railcar — arriving on the CN Rail line, likely on its way into the U.S. from a port in western Canada — and found 355 of the illegal home theater speaker systems.

Agents said the units violated U.S. intellectual property rights regulations, meaning they were made to look like a brand name but were in fact knockoffs.

The counterfeit merchandise totaled a suggested retail price of $990,415.

“Counterfeiting adversely affects lawful rights holders of their original ideas and the ability to make a profit from them,” Anthony Jackson, International Falls port director, said in a statement Tuesday announcing the bust. “Counterfeiting also harms consumers because manufacturers of forged products have little motivation to use safe, high-quality materials in their products.”

Customs officials said stopping the flow of illicit goods is a priority trade issue for the agency, saying “unscrupulous companies have profited billions of dollars from the sale of counterfeit and pirated goods” often imported from Asia.

In August agents at the Ranier border crossing seized more than $84,000 in knockoff  Barbie dolls entering the U.S. in a rail car.