U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port just intercepted a 20-foot terminal container filled with -- get ready to time-travel back to seventh grade here -- 14,900 pairs of Paul Frank pajamas. You know, the ones with the super hideous football-mouthed monkey all over them; the ones you only liked, and made your mom buy you, because everyone else was wearing them.
We didn't even know they sold those things anymore. So out! And indeed, CBP spokesman Jaime Ruiz says the entire lot of fakes would have only fetched...
... $537,000, if shoppers had even believed the mock designs in the first place, and shelled out the full Paul Frank price for them.
Subtract the $92,700 the pajamas are actually worth, and the cost of shipping, and this massive counterfeiting endeavor doesn't even turn over half a mil. Like we said -- desperate times in Indonesia.
Supervising officer Elizabeth Ortega tells the Weekly that the CBP already had its eye on the shipment, based on info provided by its sender, before it arrived at port. And when inspectors noticed the (painfully turn-of-the-century) monkey logos staring up at them, they called up Paul Frank, Inc. itself to do some fact-checking.
"Typically when we do see a trademark, we'll reach out and request [the company's] assistance in authenticating," Ortega says. The company then advises officers "to see if the stitching is appropriate, or if there's some type of hologram."
In this case, she explains, "we sent out pictures to the trademark holder. Based on the stitching and the way the actual trademark looks, it wasn't exactly how their trademark was recorded."
Behold, some Indonesian's interpretation of our childhood desperation:Huh. Looks like Paul Frank to us. Guess we never really examined the designs themselves too closely -- more just the gaze of pure envy on the puggy little mugs of the other girls at the sleepover.
Ortega understands. "There's a lot of trademarks out there that children are so fond of," she says. "Your average consumer just kind of looks at it at a glance."
And spokesman Ruiz can relate: "I'm probably old-fashioned. I'd probably know Mickey Mouse. I know that name!"
But to anyone who knows anything about modern(-ish) kids apparel, the designs are a far cry from the originals -- which are way less busy, with fewer pirate hats and unfurling scrolls and other weird embellishments the Indonesians apparently added for flair.
As if that crap could get any uglier. (The original Paul Frank, who split from his L.A. company in 2005, silently agrees. We're sure of it.)
"Piratical merchandise robs U.S. companies of their original ideas, innovations and revenue,'' Todd Owen, CBP's director of field operations in Los Angeles, told City News Service today, probably not intending the awesome pirate pun and "original ideas" riot.