AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 9 The Ab Circle Pro is the number one home fitness product of the year, and you can't turn on your TV or surf the web without seeing an offer to "Lose Your Love Handles" on this "Treadmill for your Abs." Yet when a product sells this well, as with luxury watches and designer handbags, there are those who try to take advantage of the situation by selling counterfeit goods to unknowing consumers. "That's where we put our foot down," says Michael Casey, CEO of Fitness Brands, Inc., creators of the Ab Circle Pro.
"Of course it's harmful to us," Casey continued, "but we're more concerned about the prospect of harm to consumers and the fact that they are purchasing a product in good faith with our name on it and then receiving a lesser value."
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, counterfeit and pirated goods seizures totaled more than $272.7 million last year, a 38 percent increase over the previous year.
Not only does this illegal practice hurt the company whose trademarked products are being copied and add to legal expenses, it's harmful to the eventual buyers who can end up with an inferior product that is potentially dangerous and badly made. It also hurts companies in the supply chain of legitimate manufacturers and importers such as packaging vendors, shippers, retailers, secondary website retailers, and of course, the owners and employees of the company being cannibalized.
So far, customs agents have seized more than 13 shipments at the Long Beach/Los Angeles Seaport representing more than 10,000 counterfeit Ab Circle Pro units, and Fitness Brands is working closely with the U.S. Customs Service to pursue action against the importers as well as the manufacturers in China.
"We have worked hard at establishing protection for the Ab Circle Pro through a strategy of obtaining patents, trademarks and copyrights worldwide as well as a robust and effective approach to enforcing these rights," stated Ross Epstein, Partner at The Nath Law Group, a boutique intellectual property law firm, "including these seizures at the port, pursuing infringers who advertise counterfeit products online, closely working with Fitness Brands and its distributors, tracking down the rogue factories and trading companies in China and pursuing companies and individuals that are importing counterfeit goods wherever the product is being sold."
China, the number one source country in 2008 for counterfeit goods seized, accounted for $221.6 million or 81 percent of the total domestic value of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) seizures. The value of seized counterfeits from China rose 40 percent compared to 2007. India came in second, accounting for six percent in the value of seized counterfeit goods.
"We will continue to aggressively pursue the counterfeiters and cooperate with the authorities to see that they are punished," added Casey. "It's wrong and we're not going to just stand by and let it happen."
SOURCE Fitness Brands, Inc.