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$12 million in fake S'Well water bottles seized at Port of Charleston, officials say

An attorney representing the company accused of trademark infringement in this case contacted ABC News 4 and said seized items pictured above were given back to ETS Express per court order. The legal team representing ETS Express in the case argues the bottles are not counterfeits. (Photo provided by CBP)

Editor's Note: An attorney representing the company accused of trademark infringement in this case contacted ABC News 4 and said seized items were provided to ETS Express per court order. The legal team representing ETS Express in the case argues the bottles are not counterfeits.

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Officials at the Port of Charleston say they seized counterfeit water bottles this summer which valued to about $12,341,820 in illegal goods.

A press release issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operates states the water bottles were seized in five different incidents, and all were cases where the product originated from China -- destined for a California distributor.

"In each case, the importer of the merchandise was unable to provide requested paperwork demonstrating that the manufacturer of the goods was authorized to use a unique bottle shape which is a style patented and trademarked by the S’Well Bottle Company," the release states.

CBP reports 345,597 plastic and stainless steel bottles were manufactured in a style that mimicked the unique shapes and features trademarked by S’Well Bottle Company. Investigators say S'Well confirmed their trademarked design was infringed, "from use of the same cap to the fluting on the bottom of the bottle and everything in between. "

“The officers that worked these seizures did a tremendous job,” said Robert Fencel Charleston Area Port Director. “It required thorough attention to detail and research to discover this trademark infringement. Their work demonstrates how committed CBP is to ensuring the designers and manufacturers of unique products are protected from those who would try to steal the profits from their hard work and ingenuity.”

CBP says among issues related to counterfeit products are health concerns related to lack of regulation. "Counterfeit products have been found to be manufactured using substandard or tainted materials under uncontrolled, unsanitary conditions, using labor practices that violate international standards," the release states.

If you know of counterfeit goods shipped illegally into the U.S., you’re asked to call the Intellectual Property Rights hotline. The number is 866-IPR-2060. Its operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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