CBP on the Prowl for Copycats
Are Those Red Bottoms Really Christian Louboutins? | by Peter Quinter, guest columnist.
Haven’t you ever thought – Are those Tory Burch flats real? Is that Coach tag attached to an authentic Coach purse? Are those boots really UGGs? Is that Michael Kors wallet a knock-off?
Well, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) asks the very same questions routinely.
All the big designers register their trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The more sophisticated trademark owners then also record their trademarks with CBP.
CBP officers protect recorded trademarks by preventing the importation of merchandise attempting to enter the United States which may be counterfeit or otherwise infringe on the trademark rights of the trademark owner. Commonly counterfeited trademark examples are UL, HP, Apple, Microsoft, Wi-Fi, SD, Bluetooth, and HDMI. Counterfeiting is a $600 billion international business.
Both trademarks and copyrights are recorded with CBP through the Intellectual Property Rights e-Recordation online system. This system allows CBP to obtain information instantly, facilitating the seizure of fake goods. Customs officers investigate imports displaying the designer’s marks, and verify whether they are genuine. When the cargo arrives in the US, it is detained by CBP officers. Often, the importer is asked to provide written licenses from the trademark owner authorizing the manufacture and importation of the items. Often, a sample of the detained items is shipped to the trademark owner for careful examination.
Should the trademark owner confirm that an item is counterfeit, CBP seizes the shipment. A formal letter from CBP’s Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures Office is eventually sent to the importer. The importer can then file a Petition with CBP requesting the release of the items. In some cases, the importer decides to go to Court to get its merchandise released. The trademark owner is then much more involved in the process.
For more information on how to protect your designer marks or other trademarks using the CBP program, please call or email me with any questions or comments at [email protected] or (954) 270-1864.
Copyright © 2013 GrayRobinson
A version of this column originally appeared in the GrayRobinson Customs and International Law Blog, which is edited by Peter Quinter and covers a range of legal and regulatory issues related to trade. Subscribe at http://www.grcustomslaw.com/
About Peter Quinter
The Datamyne Blog’s legal contributor is a shareholder in GrayRobinson’s Miami and Ft. Lauderdale offices and chair of the Customs & International Trade Law Group. Appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to the Florida District Export Council, Quinter is a recognized expert in international and trade law: Florida Trend magazine ranks Quinter among its “Legal Elite” in International Law; he is listed in “Best Lawyers in America” in the area of FDA Law.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views or Descartes Datamyne. In addition, this article is for general information purposes only and it’s not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind and my not be used for professional or commercial purposes. No one should act, or refrain from acting, based solely on this article without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.
Date posted: June 21, 2013