Horry County police and the South Carolina Secretary of State's Office joined forces over the Memorial Day weekend and seized $504,000 in counterfeit merchandise from some vendors at the Atlantic Beach Bike Fest.
The Secretary of State's Office says they charged three vendors with distribution of counterfeit merchandise, illegal distribution of recordings, and trafficking in counterfeit goods. According to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center website, arrested were Assani Kinunda from Cincinnati, OH, Mamadi Camara from Cincinnati, OH, and Khalifa Ababacar Diop from Atlanta, GA.
The merchandise they seized included CDs, jeans, sunglasses, hats, handbags, shoes, wallets, cell phone covers, iPad covers, and DVDs. Some companies misrepresented were Air Jordan, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Major League Baseball, Motion Picture Association of America, National Hockey League, NCAA, NFL, Nike, Oakley, Polo, Recording Industry of America, True Religion and Versace.
The Secretary of State's office says vendors were required, as part of their vendor agreement with Atlantic Beach, to sign a registration form that, in part, read: "Counterfeit merchandise is prohibited."
"This shows that there continues to be a problem with counterfeit goods being brought into Horry County," said Lt. Jamie DeBari of the Horry County Police Department in Tuesday's news release. "We will continue to work in partnership with the Secretary of State's Office to protect consumers from individuals who attempt to sell fake and fraudulent goods."
"The sale of counterfeit merchandise is not a victimless crime. It exploits our tourists, hurts manufacturers, retailers, and the economy," said Secretary of State Mark Hammond. "I encourage consumers to question inappropriate pricing or markings on known 'designer' items, as well as where the items are being sold."
Distribution of counterfeit merchandise carries a fine of up to $20,000 and/or five years imprisonment. Trafficking in counterfeit goods, as well as illegal distribution of recordings, carries a five year prison term with fines up to $250,000. Trafficking of counterfeit goods valued between $10,000 and $50,000 is a felony with a fine up to $20,000 and five years in jail or both. More stringent trademark legislation was passed in 2006 as a result of the joint efforts of law enforcement and the Secretary of State's Office.
For more information regarding trademark violations or to register a trademark in the State of South Carolina, contact Secretary of State Mark Hammond's office at (803) 734-2170.